Ripples In Time
<v Speaker 1>[intro music]. <v Voiceover Artist>Major funding for ripples in time is provided by a grant from the North Carolina Council on the Holocaust. Additional funding provided by Royal Insurance and the Charlotte Observer. <v Isaac Lepek>With my brother, we used to talk about something we said maybe just was a dream, maybe it's not true. How could we live like this? But we did. <v Fred Bergen>My name is Fred Bergen. <v Isaac Lepek>Isaac Lepek. <v Marianne Lieberman>I'm Marianne Lieberman. <v Irving Mond>My name is Irving Mond.
<v Susan Cernyak-Spatz>Susan Cernyak-Spatz. <v Celia Scher>My name is Celia Scher. <v Henry Hirshmann>I'm Henry Hirshmann. <v Speaker>[music] <v Stuart Grasberg>On November 9th, 1938, the Nazi government incited riots throughout Germany and Austria, over fourteen hundred synagogues were destroyed and thousands of Jews were sent to concentration camps. Kristallnacht, the night of Broken Glass, was the beginning of the end for 11 and a half million people in Europe. That figure does not represent soldiers killed in combat, but that of six million Jews and five and a half million others Christians, intellectuals, the mentally ill and anyone else the Nazis deemed to be undesirable. This program focuses on several people who were caught up in the events of the Holocaust and how it has affected their lives. Isaac Lepek's life today as much like it was in Poland in the 1930s. His was a normal life during those pre-war years. He served in the Army, traveled Europe and was married.
<v Isaac Lepek>In 1933, we had a son, 1934 to 35 was good years, we lived comfortable. And in 1935, then the leader from the Polish government, Pilsudski, he died. The anti-Semitic parties took over and that was my land. And since then we start to suffer and we suffer till the German came, till 1939. <v Stuart Grasberg>Even though the Polish government made existence difficult for the Jews, life took a turn for the worse under German occupation. Jewish ghettos were established in almost every town, and for Isaac and many others, it became a life of forced labor. <v Isaac Lepek>That took us every day to work in fields, all kind of going to work, all kind of going to work without pay, no pay, no food.
<v Stuart Grasberg>Isaac always carries with him the only family picture of his years in Poland. It is a picture of his sister's wedding in 1941. Soon after, as he and his brother continued forced labor, the rest of his family was deported to Chelmno, one of a number of death camps in Poland. <v Isaac Lepek>And all those people that you see here, not one is alive, only myself. <v Stuart Grasberg>After two years in a labor camp, Isaac and his brother were taken to Auschwitz Birkenau. <v Isaac Lepek>When the train stopped, they told us to go out, raus, children. Older people. Sick people on the left, right? And the right of all the healthy people I went to right with my brother. My number is one three eight six four one. They didn't know the name. They didn't care about the name on the button, only about the number. And one day. I said to my brother, if you stay here a long time, you'll be finished.
<v Stuart Grasberg>In an effort to survive, Isaac and his brother volunteered to go to [inaudible] to build a new camp. For the first time, they were given the striped uniforms of concentration camp prisoners. <v Isaac Lepek>Before the rest, I didn't recognize my brother. My brother didn't recognize me, I did not recognize everybody who was there and nobody recognized each other. We were different people. <v Stuart Grasberg>As allied forces advanced through Europe, Isaac, his brother and the thousands of others were marched from camp to camp. They ended up in today's [inaudible], which was now more overcrowded and had less food to go around. Isaac was sick and his weight had dropped to 60 pounds. <v Isaac Lepek>A guy passed by you look at me, he says to me. How do you-- your name is so-and-so. I says, yes, how do you know? He says, my name is so-and-so, I am from your town. You don't recognize me, but I hardly can recognize you. So he said to me, Don't move. I'll bring you something. He left. A few minutes later, he came with some soap. He gave me the soap and I ate. I was a rich man.
<v Stuart Grasberg>A few days later, the Germans, knowing they were defeated, left the camp. <v Isaac Lepek>Is there left and nobody to cover that ever who could-- somebody who could organize, you could. I wasn't able to organize anything. I was a dead man. All of a sudden. If you heard something, like bosses or something like cars, something-- some sound, and this was 12:00, how I know that was said that people call us after that, the Russian came out, came in and liberated us. After the war in 1945, everybody, not everybody, but the majority Jewish people who survived went back to Poland. I've been back to Poland because we made a date with the wife and son that we will meet there. And so did, let's say, 60, 70 percent or more. But nobody did find.
<v Stuart Grasberg>What he did find was that new socialist Poland was as anti-Semitic as pre-war Poland, Isaac went to Germany, where he met the widow of a man killed by the Nazis. They were married, relocated to the United States with his wife's daughter and eventually retired in Charlotte. <v Isaac Lepek>With my brother, we used to talk about something, we said maybe this was a dream, maybe it's not true. How could we live like this? But we did. <v Speaker>[water sounds] <v Susan Cernyak-Spatz>My maiden name was Susie ?Eckstein?. I was born in Vienna, and when I was about six years old, I stayed with my grandparents for a year while my parents established themselves in Berlin. <v Stuart Grasberg>Susan Cernyak-Spatz spent most of her childhood in Germany and Austria. Her earliest recollections coincide with a time when Hitler was rising to power and when the Jews were feeling the effects.
<v Susan Cernyak-Spatz>And my mother was one of these people that said, Oh, I can't last long. And let's just-- let's just say we're just moving from one country to the other. Let's move back to Vienna. We moved back to Vienna in 1936, and in 1938, Hitler followed again. <v Stuart Grasberg>The family moved, this time to Prague. And again, Hitler's troops soon took over. Susan's father, who had served in the Austro Hungarian army in World War One, decided it was time for the family to flee to Belgium. <v Susan Cernyak-Spatz>My mother was the very careful person, said, Oh, you go first, and if it's safe, then the child and I will follow. But unfortunately, he went on August 31st, 1939. And that was that for my mother and me, he got out of Poland, was practically the last plane and got to Belgium. But we were stuck. <v Stuart Grasberg>Within a year, the deportations began to the ghettos and concentration camps in Poland and to a new ghetto in Czechoslovakia called Thereseinstadt, which was essentially a funnel to Auschwitz.
<v Susan Cernyak-Spatz>And my mother chose not to stay with me. So she went on to Auschwitz. <v Stuart Grasberg>And that's the last you saw of her? <v Susan Cernyak-Spatz>That's the last I saw of her. And I found later on in Auschwitz, I found one of the lists with her transported no list of her coming into the camp, which meant, thank God, she went directly into the gas without knowing what was going on. But, of course, in Thereseinstadt the slightest infraction put you on the transport. <v Stuart Grasberg>Susan's turn came in January 1943 when she, too, was put on a transport to Auschwitz. Susan, what is this? <v Susan Cernyak-Spatz>It's the numbers thirty four thousand forty two with the triangle underneath meaning Jewish. This was the number that everybody who came into Auschwitz Birkenau received. Those that went directly in the gas were not tattooed. The twenty five-- for the twenty five blocks on the Jewish side was one latrine and one faucet and the pipes of faucet ran through the latrine. So if you drank water, you automatically condemn yourself to death. It was contaminated. No spoon, no handkerchief, no toothbrush, no nothing. Food, of course, became the paramount preoccupation.
<v Stuart Grasberg>What was the worst moment for you? <v Susan Cernyak-Spatz>You had to-- in order to-- to even have a chance at survival, you had to at least get through the typhoid fever. Well, I had the typhoid fever and how I got through those four days, I don't know, because they practically carried me through. And the-- Must have been, I guess, the first day the block leader who was a Slovakian girl named ?Ilka?, Ilkka ?Gern?, she said, Susan, I've got to send you to the hospital. And at that time, in about March, February, March, forty three to go to the Jewish-- the one Jewish hospital block meant you signed your death certificate because the doctor would go there three or four times a day through that and take them out and put them into the-- into the gas block. Ilka Gern allowed me to stay in the block. She didn't have to. Because the staying in the block, it was-- she took her own risk because there was nobody supposed to be in the block during the day and she left me-- left me in the block and gave me one vitamin pill and one aspirin. And laying in that block, laying in that bunk in the block that came one moment and somehow or other that is etched in my mind when I had the feeling that the boards under me had fallen away, and if I didn't grip to the edge of that bunk, I'd fall into nothingness.
<v Stuart Grasberg>Susan survived her bout with typhus and managed to obtain a job in the camps building department where she learned that Hitler's final solution was designed to include the entire world. <v Susan Cernyak-Spatz>And in the building department, I typed lots and lots and lots of specs for camps for the next 100 years that the Germans had planned for camps from here, from the [Sicilian] border to the Ural practically and farther on. For every-- every nationality, every continent of the world, they had planned it all, believe me. So Kristallnacht is one of the things. It was the beginning-- <v Stuart Grasberg>More than four decades have passed since those dark days of Auschwitz. Now a German literature Ph.D., she teaches this college course on the Holocaust. <v Susan Cernyak-Spatz>The idea that the Holocaust only concern Jews is a large mistake. <v Stuart Grasberg>Susan also takes her message to local schools.
<v Susan Cernyak-Spatz>Now, there's only one mission, and that is to make sure that as many non-Jewish young people in the area where I am and I don't know how far out I could reach, I would like to reach all of them. Learn about the universal importance of the Holocaust, because the Holocaust, I think, was the most cataclysmic event of the 20th century. And what it did, in my view, is, first of all, establish a available pattern to any demagogic government or to any dictatorial government a blueprint, if you will, of how to get rid of unwanted minorities. These are my descendants. This is what it's all about. That's what I leave behind. Healthy children, which weren't supposed to be here, according to the plan of the Third Reich. And I fooled them.
<v Speaker>[water sounds] <v Stuart Grasberg>Irving Mond is his name and one of his life's passions is the game of soccer, a passion which goes back to his childhood in Europe. <v Irving Mond>I was born in Antwerp, Belgium, and my pound was in the diamond business. We had a big family with about four or five uncles and aunts and cousins, and every weekend we got together. I played soccer with all my neighbors, and then when later on, I started to play for the Maccabi. <v Stuart Grasberg>In 1941, the occupying Germans ordered all Belgian Jews to register and to wear a star of David Patch on their clothes.
<v Irving Mond>It was bad. You felt a little inferior. I got a notice that I had to go build the Atlantic wall, which was the biggest lie. If I had gone, I wouldn't be here today, it was straight to concentration camp, I moved to Charleroi. When I got to Charleroi, you have to change your ID, go to City Hall, and I had to start and I went to city hall and here are Gestapo, an SS officer walks in. And he could see me and the guy behind the desk says to me. Stay still, I'll be there and he came running out and put his hand on the star of David, pulled me into his office, and gave me my papers and let me out to a secret door on the other side. He saved my life.
<v Stuart Grasberg>The days in Charleroi were only the beginning of the ordeal for Irving and his family. Soon he returned home to his parents in Antwerp. <v Irving Mond>When I got back, that's when the horrror. First, they caught my sister. They didn't catch her, but. She went voluntarily to that building, the Atlantic wall, and I never heard again from her. We tried to get it out. We couldn't get her out. <v Stuart Grasberg>To escape, the Mond Family obtained false papers which said they were French citizens. His father, the only family member not fluent in French, had to play deaf and dumb. <v Irving Mond>When the time came, it was full and it was all Germans. We had eight times to anticipate the Germans. Twice they went to my father and once my mother, once I, we told them he doesn't speak and we were like, I don't know how we made it, unbelievable.
<v Stuart Grasberg>In France, his mother and another sister found refuge in a convent. Irving stayed wherever he could, including one evening in a park when he was approached by a prostitute. <v Irving Mond>I said to her, I'm Jewish. I have no place to sleep. I don't know where to sleep tonight. And she said, Come with me. So I came. I went with her and we got to the hotel. And she told, you know, I'm Jewish and everything. She said to me "Do you have false papers?" I said, yes. Register on your false papers. I registered on my-- the false papers. Got a room, I went upstairs. An hour later they're raiding the hotel. The whole hotel, every room was open except mine. I couldn't believe it. In the morning when I got down, grabbed the owner and kissed him. I said, how did you do it? He said, when they came, I told him that you were a Frenchman with travel 300 miles and you are exhausted to leave you-- to leave him alone, and they left me alone. He saved my life.
<v Stuart Grasberg>Several weeks later, Irving and his family walked into Switzerland one week before the Swiss government began turning people away. It wasn't until after the war that Irving returned to Belgium. <v Irving Mond>Then somebody came back, a young woman who was 22, 23, and she told me she was with my sister and that my sister got killed in the gas chambers and I lost 28 close relatives. <v Stuart Grasberg>After two years in Israel, Irving arrived in the United States. He soon met his wife Rita, and had three children. <v Rita Mond>The children weren't that inquisitive. I think that they just took it naturally in stride as far as his experiences went in Europe. And they questioned certain things. Of course, they could not face up to the fact of why so many Jews had to die during the Holocaust, why they didn't rise up and rebel. And Irving tried to explain to them that the Jews were never really fighters and they were outnumbered. They didn't have the guns, even if they would fight and they've accepted it. We've never really dwelt on it.
<v Irving Mond>[speaking Hebrew] <v Stuart Grasberg>Today, Irving Mond is active both in business and in the community. He teaches Hebrew in his spare time and often speaks to groups on the subject of the Holocaust. His message to the world is one of love and caring for all people. <v Irving Mond>I love people. Why? Because people were good to me. And I'll never forget. What the Christians and the Gentiles helped me and everything I can-- when I hear some people say these and these people are no good, I say. How can you talk? Do you know these people? Everybody has good and bad, but there are more good than bad. <v Speaker>[water sounds]
<v Marianne Lieberman>I do abstract art, except it is abstracted from my own feelings and I formulate symbols that represent the essence of my experience. <v Stuart Grasberg>Marianne Lieberman is an artist, something which has been a focal point of her life since she was a child in Vienna. Her father, a physician, was Jewish. Her mother was born Catholic. <v Marianne Lieberman>So that meant that I had two Jewish grandparents and two Christian grandparents, which made me a mischling first-- of the first degree as [speaking German], which under the Nuremberg laws excluded me from higher education. <v Stuart Grasberg>On November 9th, 1938, Marianne's mother sent her to a photographer. This picture was made to be used for a passport. It was Kristallnacht. She saw Jews being harassed on the street and the local synagogue was burning.
<v Marianne Lieberman>Of course, I knew that my parents were incredibly upset, but they tried to keep it from me as much as possible. My father did not believe that he was actually going to be persecuted. He was an officer in the First World War. He was a staff physician. He had left the Jewish faith and he did not believe that he was going to be persecuted. <v Stuart Grasberg>After being warned by one of his patients that the Gestapo would pick him up. Her father escaped. Marianne and her mother saw him once more in Nice, France. He went to the United States. They found refuge in a Yugoslavian border town with an aunt. <v Marianne Lieberman>I had to change faith and become Catholic in order for the Nazi German community not to denounce me. I felt that there was no humanity. If you don't-- if you can't be yourself and I was not allowed to be who I was ever, apparently I always had to be someone else. For instance, when I was still in Vienna in school, we had to do a Nazi scene, something that had taken our attention, and we had to bring in a piece of work. And of course, I knew-- I knew what to do and I did it. And I said, well, this time I'm going to shine, even though they're trying to harass me. Well, no sooner did I do this painting. And of course, it won the first prize. I realized that-- that I had only betrayed myself. And that was a very, very deep blow at age 11. I painted something I didn't believe in and it still hurts.
<v Stuart Grasberg>When Hitler came to Yugoslavia in 1941, her mother returned to Vienna and later sent for Marianne, her passage back to Vienna was a dangerous one, including lying to German officers to get a border pass. <v Marianne Lieberman>One of the guys said to me, You are lying. You're not from Vienna. You don't even have a Viennese accent. And out of the depth of my memory came the most vile Viennese slang that I used on them, and I was even embarrassed thinking about it because I was never allowed to speak like this and at home. And the minute he heard that, he said, she's all right, give her the paper. I thought I was coming home to something that was home and I found out that it wasn't at all. All my friends that I had left in 1939 did not know me anymore. I tried to contact one or two and they acted like they had never heard of me. When they saw me on the street that would cross and would ignore me. This for a 14 year old is very difficult. And so I began a very lonely private existence, not talking to anyone, not knowing anyone. And really developing an inner life.
<v Stuart Grasberg>After a year of slave labor, marianne found refuge in an obscure office job which ultimately saved her from the concentration camps. Today, Marianne's inner life is reflected in her art. Her experiences affect the images in this piece. Artist as mother. <v Marianne Lieberman>Well, here is some of the shadows of my past. And I-- there's a person that is almost dropping into nothingness. But I-- and some of the fires I witnessed, some of the destruction I witnessed. It took me years to be able to grasp where my art came from and why it is different and what it is about? I learned what survival means. I learned how to think deeply and quickly. And I learned how to be creative due to those needs. When you are called upon to save yourself at an early age. It's a monumental experience. That stays with you and you begin-- you-- you treasure those qualities and you in all of-- of that enormous will to live. To be creative was the-- my salvation. And I felt that I owe a lot to my talent, and so I've always tried to-- to appreciate it and work with it and never stop learning. And exploring and being brave with my art. Taking risks. That's why I do lithography. That medium takes a lot of risk. You never know what you're going to get. It's always a new experience and it's always new life.
<v Speaker>[water sounds] <v Skeet Eskridge>Well, during the war, I was Lieutenant Eskridge and I was in the four hundred and Fortieth Armored Field Artillery Battalion, part of the 7th Armored Division, <v Stuart Grasberg>William Eskridge, also known as Skeet Eskridge, was a battery executive officer commanding six self-propelled howitzers in the allied drive across Europe. During the final push into Germany, Skeet and his men were among the frontline troops. <v Skeet Eskridge>So I was up front and all at once we came across this barbed wire enclosure, this fenced enclosure place, and I thought it was some kind of a prisoner of war camp. <v Stuart Grasberg>What Lieutenant Eskridge had found, was the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. <v Skeet Eskridge>So there was a tank about an hour and a half drive, but there was a tank right back behind us. And so I motioned the tank to come run through the fence, which you did. So I go in and as all these people in there, many of them dead, and they were crawling [inaudible] on the foot and this sort of thing. So I walked in and I had no idea what to do and they didn't know what it was. They were starved to death and typhoid fever. And this was the thing. The arms-- legs were no bigger than my wrist, some of them. And it was just a terrible sight to behold.
<v Stuart Grasberg>His unit left the camp to continue their fight against the Germans. Two days later, Eskridge returned. <v Skeet Eskridge>Cameras were forbidden to us. But you know, GIs, they always get hold of something. So they-- somebody had a camera and they-- I was standing there when they made this particular picture. Now, this is several days after the original time when we overran the camp, so to speak, what it does show at least the corpses lined up. As I mentioned, the people in the town are bringing in belts and lining them up. And the army people, British army people were trying to identify the body. <v James Schrum>Well, my name is ?James Schrum? and I was in 48th combat engineers. <v Stuart Grasberg>Today, he's a machinist at a textile plant. But 45 years ago, James Schrum was right in the thick of the fighting in Europe. <v James Schrum>Hand to hand round the corners of the houses, in the houses, cleaning out houses, cleaning the Germans out of houses.
<v Stuart Grasberg>As the war went on, Schrum fought his way through Italy and France as his division approached Munich, Germany, they came upon a place called Dachau. <v James Schrum>I had never heard about it before until we just suddenly came upon it. We were just doing our duties, chasing Germans, trying to get the war over then we got inside in the barracks, they was motionless people, just skin and bones, some of them. Too far gone to even move, just lying there in the smell, it was the smell of humans rotting in death. It is unexplainable until you face it yourself or until you go through it. It's unexplainable. There were details of men working, carting them out, laying blame on little carts and then hauling out or carry them out to the outside the building and laying them on the car and take them away. The only reason I talk about it now is because there's a certain amount of people in this world that maybe doesn't believe this ever happened. And I think that me being there in person may have some bearing on getting people to believe that it did happen because I was there and I saw what happened, I was a part of it. And I know what happened.
<v Speaker>[water sounds] <v Fred Bergen>I was born in a small town called Windecken. <v Stuart Grasberg>His name is Fred Bergen, but 50 years ago in Germany, he was ?Manfred Reichenberg?, born in a town where his family had lived for hundreds of years. <v Fred Bergen>I was the fifth generation born in Windecken and the house we lived in was built in about seventeen hundred and twenty nine. <v Stuart Grasberg>Like most good Germans, his father served in World War One. They were a proud people and patriotic to their homeland. <v Fred Bergen>There was never any problems. All my friends were non-Jewish. We just played together and did what everyone else did. <v Stuart Grasberg>Why did you find it necessary to leave Germany? <v Fred Bergen>Because I knew that you couldn't stay in Germany as a Jew. It was-- you could-- you could see the time coming that either you get out of here or else you're not going to make it.
<v Ilsa Bergen>My parents didn't take it so seriously. They said, oh, that's something it's going to blow over. <v Stuart Grasberg>Fred's wife, Ilsa, grew up in the city of Munich. She knows what times were like in Hitler's Germany. <v Ilsa Bergen>The teachers were afraid to be nice to us and some really didn't want to be nice to us. They graded us terrible. Our grades were unfair. And then they put me up on a podium and they had a measuring device and they measured me from here to here to the chin and up and this way. And I was very nervous. And the teacher said, see, those are not normal measurements. This is not a normal child. I was on my way to school. I walked to school and here came Hitler. And he went to this office and people were yelling and screaming at him and he stood in there like that. <v Stuart Grasberg>Fred and Ilsa met after the war in Brooklyn, New York. Both were able to obtain passports and escape to the United States, later to be followed by their parents. Fred joined the army, became an American citizen and fought the Japanese.
<v Fred Bergen>Well, I came back from the Philippines in 1946. And friends of mine who-- well, were there during the war-- at the end of the war yet had told us the stories of the concentration camps. <v Ilsa Bergen>Oh, we knew what was going on. We know that they sent them to Auschwitz. We knew what was going on in Windecken. We knew that they killed a generation of Jewish children. Sure we knew. <v Stuart Grasberg>More than 50 years after Fred and Ilsa left Germany, the next generation was preparing for [speaks German] 700th anniversary. Since Jewish people had lived there since 1300, some felt that there could be no celebration without them. The Bergens and several other survivors were located and their expenses paid to return to Windecken. <v Fred Bergen>The synagogue wasn't there any more. When we went to the cemetery, there were only a few gravestones left and I found out that none of my friends, the Christian friends I was talking about before, none of them was alive. They were all killed at the Russian front.
<v Stuart Grasberg>But the townspeople welcomed the Bergens with open arms. Everywhere they went emotions ran high. <v Fred Bergen>Because the mayor of Windecken, he was the one who said that it was our fault that we should have never let them burn down the synagogue, which we did not rise and help the Jewish people. We are to blame for it. <v Ilsa Bergen>They took us to the high school one day. They were 15, 16 and 17 year old young people. They knew all about the Holocaust. Apparently, they were well aware of the Holocaust. They were well aware of what happened in Auschwitz. They were well aware of what happened to the Jews. So we didn't even go into this too much with the things that they asked us about was how did you get out? And then one of the kids said that-- we only said, you know, you look just like-- said to one lady-- you look so much like my grandmother. You look like-- and they're nice people. And whenever we asked them how-- how did this happen? How did you get involved in such a thing? They won't answer us. They don't want to talk about us. And so there seems to be a real rift. Between that generation and the grandparents.
<v Fred Bergen>So this is the reason that the younger teachers, they want to know and the children want to know because they say this is something we've got to know so it will never happen again. And our children and children's children must know the story. <v Ilsa Bergen>Someone said they wanted it to be the beginning of a healing process, and this is why they're doing it. <v Speaker>[water sounds] <v Celia Scher>I have six beautiful grandchildren, three gorgeous girls and three handsome gentlemen. <v Stuart Grasberg>Celia Scher was born on the Lower East Side of New York City. Her grandmother or bubby, as she was affectionately called, had emigrated from Poland around the turn of the century.
<v Celia Scher>I was about 12 or 13, and we started getting letters from the old country. Relatives saying that things were getting very bad there to please send money so that they can try to get to America that things were so impossible that it really was getting bad. And each and every week I remember taking whatever money my bubby could scrape together and I would go and make up a money order and send it off to Poland where the family was. And that went on for two and a half years. <v Stuart Grasberg>What did you notice about your grandmother that made you realize that there was a problem? <v Celia Scher>Well, I noticed that she kept getting very upset because with each holiday that came along with each time she kept saying she was going to go and cook this and she was going to make that. And when the holiday came along and nobody was there, except, of course, the immediate family, she started getting a little depressed, worrying about what was happening, the letters that we were getting started getting less and less frequent. And she started to realize that things were not the way they should be.
<v Stuart Grasberg>As the war went on, Celia's grandmother continued to send money to her relatives. It wasn't until the war ended that the truth became known. <v Celia Scher>We had an aunt and her name is ?Maria Alpert?. I'll never forget her name. She came to the house one day and proceeded to sit down and tell my bubby a good five hours in a row that the entire family was gone, all wiped out and they had been gone for all the two and a half years that we were sending money. And bubby said, But I kept getting letters and she said, yes, they wrote the letters all at one time and they were sending them to you a piece at a time. And all the money that you were sending to them, they were using against us. Watching my grandmother's face, it was-- it tore me apart. I never want anybody to go through what my bubby went through and to see the woman I thought was the greatest thing on God's green earth going through this kind of torture was enough to set even an 11, 12 or 13 year old kid into a new channel. OK, why is it so important that we study about the Holocaust?
<v Stuart Grasberg>Because of the experience with her grandmother, Celia has taken on the task of spreading the word, of teaching and speaking about the Holocaust in schools, churches and in the classes she teaches at Shalom Park in Charlotte. She often draws parallels between the Holocaust and other moments in history. <v Celia Scher>And it goes all the way through the ages, going back to the Inquisition, going back into the Bible times, of Purim. But we're talking about out and out bigotry, out and out hatred. We're talking about Hamon saying that all the Jews have got to be killed because they are Jews. No other reason. Same thing again with the Inquisition. <v Stuart Grasberg>It is in the classroom that Celia is able to heal her wounds and look to the future, for it is said that our young people are our future, that they can change the world. <v Celia Scher>Tell me, anybody know about the Inquisition to the point--. <v Celia Scher>I teach about the Holocaust as it happened, I teach the fact that people may not realize that when it did happen, it was not the rabble rousers. It was not the rednecks of the company. It was not the teenagers, the skinheads or what have you. It was the educated people of the country. And I let them know that when they are studying something, when they are studying science, engineering or any of the other professions to make sure that they don't become so cold, cut and dried, that they forgot that they are dealing with people. People. The most important thing is they are dealing with people.
<v Celia's Grandchild>Red folded the red cloth. <v Celia Scher>Double. <v Celia's Grandchild>Double. <v Celia Scher>I want my grandchildren to know what actually happened and I want my grandchildren to know what I stood for, if nothing else, in my lifetime, I want them to know that the Holocaust did indeed happen. And if we let our guard down, it could again happen. And I want to make sure that they can bring the message that I give to them, to their children and from their children to the next child and so on and so on, just as the stories in the Bible are told over and over and over. I want to make sure that the story of what happened in Nazi Germany 50 years ago is never forgotten. Good. Is that a face? <v Speaker>[water sounds]
<v Henry Hirshmann>Here's a picture of our store and our house in the first floor. <v Stuart Grasberg>The photographs are water damaged, but they still bring back the memories. When Henry Hirschmann was a child, he and his family lived upstairs from the family store in Achim, Germany. For a while, things were good for the Hirshmann family. <v Henry Hirshmann>My father in his store, that was-- there was a lot of building going on in town and he sold building materials and he sold stoves and homes were being built and refurbished. And it was-- was great. At first we were children. Carefree, right? What did they know? They don't know anything about politics. I was an ardent swimmer. I made my lifes-- lifesaver certificate. And I was very proud of that. <v Stuart Grasberg>As the economy slowed, times got harder in Germany, as Hitler rose to power, anti-Semitism grew. <v Henry Hirshmann>Then one-- one day, we went to-- we went to the swim club. And there were signs that said [speaking German] which means Jews and dogs are not desired here.
<v Stuart Grasberg>Hirshmann applied for a visa to the United States. He was forbidden to go to school, so he got a job. Already, German people were boycotting his father's store. One day, his mother called him at work, warning him not to go home, but he decided to go anyway. <v Henry Hirshmann>And my father by that time wasn't in the house anymore because, as I said, probably neighbors were telling my mother somebody was studying them, something was going to happen. We didn't know what. And shortly I know-- and it was dark and all of a sudden I heard a terrible crash that I never forget. <v Stuart Grasberg>It was November 9th, 1938, Kristallnacht, the night of Broken Glass. Henry was arrested and taken to the railroad station in Honow, where hundreds of other Jewish men had been rounded up by the police. They were loaded onto a train and taken to Buchenwald, a concentration camp near the town of Weimar.
<v Henry Hirshmann>The first or second day or so in camp, they made us all stand up. And God help those who were old and decrepit, who couldn't stand, who want to sit down because they really got it and the rainy season had also started. As latrines, they had large holes and on top of that were logs. And when you have a loamy surface in the drains, where your shoes touched, touched the ground, that becomes very slippery. Well, let me tell you, I saw several older people disappear into that large open-- open hole, and to my knowledge, they never came back up again. That was one of the inhumanities which I'll never forget.
<v Stuart Grasberg>After five months of dehumanizing conditions, Henry's visa to the United States was granted. Miraculously, he was released from Buchenwald. He went home for the last time. <v Henry Hirshmann>My father's business was closed, it was hard for my parents to get food at that time. There were some neighbors that put some food through the fence at nighttime. <v Stuart Grasberg>Henry said goodbye to his parents and came to the United States, leaving his family behind. <v Henry Hirshmann>We had correspondence, they were writing to me constantly and we were writing to them. In the meanwhile, I tried frantically to also get my parents to-- to get to come to this country. My parents, my two brothers. But unfortunately, it didn't happen.
<v Stuart Grasberg>He joined the army and fought in France, Germany and Austria. As a Jew, he was always afraid of being captured until the war ended. <v Henry Hirshmann>At that time, I had still hopes that my parents were alive and I went to my hometown to see if there was any trace. But eventually-- eventually, it wound up I couldn't find them. I thought that somehow, some way something would turn up. But I still-- I still dream that someday I walk into one of my brothers. <v Stuart Grasberg>Today, Henry Hirshmann runs his business from his home, as he has done for many years. But he has constant reminders of his other life in Germany.
<v Henry Hirshmann>My mother was particularly fond, very fond of lilacs, so I planted, I guess, very subconsciously without knowing what I even did. I planted four bushes probably. It probably was for one member of the family each. <v Speaker>[water sounds] <v Stuart Grasberg>On November 9th, 1988, hundreds of people gathered in Charlotte's Holocaust Square to remember the fiftieth anniversary of Kristallnacht, several generations and faiths were there not only to remember the night of broken glass, but also to dedicate a Czechoslovakian Torah preserved by the Nazis for a museum of an exterminated race.
<v Singer>[singing in Hebrew] <v Marc Wilson>How touching it was to see a sanctuary that might have at one time be filled with flames of destruction now filled with the radiance. Of the singular flames representing the spirit of God that cannot be extinguished within the human soul. How is it that we convey to another generation that is now two generations removed from the Holocaust, the wellspring of emotions that these feelings of the enormity of the Holocaust evoke within us? [speaking Hebrew] In a couple of weeks, you'll read like this. <v Irving Mond>I want them to see it and hear constantly because when I look at the world today, it's not good. Too much war, too much hate, too much everything, and we have to see that we should never forget that we let something like this happen.
<v Susan Cernyak-Spatz>And according to the racial theories that were established by the Third Reich and by Hitler, in this group here, there are probably about five or six people that would have survived. The rest-- doesn't have to be Jews that people might want to eliminate. There are blacks, there are ethnic minorities, there are Hispanics. There are Oriental minorities. Minorities. All you need is to give the power and the power by default, by apathy, by stupidity and emotional upheaval. I mean, disguising and covering the actual issues with emotional appeals to patriotism and religion and what have you. You get people to follow you. <v Marianne Lieberman>It is really a self portrait, except-- human nature is very fragile and very weak, and we don't know that until we are tested. And unfortunately, I've had the experience of people being tested and seeing how they act and they act miserably. Under threat, people become very weak, and they do not stand up for anyone's rights, and so one needs to learn how to-- one needs to learn how to be brave.
<v Thomas Graves>For you, most of you, this is a night of remembrance. For me and my community, this is a night of repentance. I'm here tonight because of the grief I feel in the events that happened 50 years ago. Part of my community was responsible for that, and I grieve with that. <v Celia Scher>Tonight is a very special night because I had the name Haim given to me, which means life. And I promise you this, with the Torah coming in tonight, I promise you that I will bring the story of the Holocaust, the truth of the Holocaust, and keep alive my six million fellow Jews and five and a half million fellow human beings that cannot be here tonight. I keep reading and I keep hearing Jesus said love thy neighbor as thyself. And no matter where I ask you, no matter how many times I've asked, I want to see this statement in the Bible and I want to see where it says except or but for. He did not say love thy neighbor as thyself, but for the Jews or but for the blacks, or but for the Mexicans, or but for the yellows, the pinks, the purples, the polka dots. He didn't say that.
<v Susan Cernyak-Spatz>If each individual would work at it and if he did, the individuals will not let themselves be brainwashed ever into group thinking. Think for themselves, for God sakes, don't believe slogans. Think, learn, be aware. <v Henry Hirshmann>We the witnesses of the night of November and the Holocaust have ended the evening of our lives, and soon we wouldn't be able to tell you anymore how it came about and how it was. I've always told my children, you're all that you have each other try to get along. And as you try to teach within the family to get along, be nice to one another. I think we should be able to do that in the-- in the family-- in the family of nations.
<v Speaker>[outro music]
- Ripples In Time
- Producing Organization
- WTVI (Television station : Charlotte, N.C.)
- Contributing Organization
- The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
- AAPB ID
- Program Description
- "'Ripples In Time' documents how several Charlotte area residents remember the Holocaust of World War II, and what their experiences mean today. While most documentaries on the subject focus on the carnage and atrocities of one of history's darkest times, 'Ripples In Time' is different. The program documents the terrifying stories of each survivor, but also shows how their experiences have changed their lives. "One example is that of Susan Cernak-Spatz, whose mother was sent directly to the gas chamber. Susan was able to survive, mostly through her own ingenuity as well as the compassion of friends, and now teaches [a] course on the subject at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She also travels to junior and senior high schools to speak. It is interesting to [see] the faces of the school children -- faces of all races and nationalities, as she relates her incredible experiences. "Almost more incredible, is the story of Isaac Lepek, [who] lost his entire family with the exception of one brother. After being moved through seven concentration and work camps during the war years, he was moments from death when his camp was liberated. "Other stories include those of the liberators, men who were fighting the Germans when they discovered the camps. "'Ripples In Time' was able to tell these stories without the need for file film footage. The majority of photographs used were from the personal collections of the persons interviewed. "'Ripples In Time' provides food for thought. One learns from viewing the program that there are other holocausts in history -- and some potential holocausts that have not yet happened."--1989 Peabody Awards entry form. This program features the thoughts and feelings of Holocaust survivors, Irving Mond, Marianne Lieberman, Fred Bergen, Ilsa Bergen, Celia Scher, and Henry Hirshmann, this program shows the Holocaust through a broad range of perspectives. In a gathering commemorating Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, Rabbi Marc Wilson and Reverend Thomas Graves also give their thoughts about human nature and life. Stuart Grasburg hosts.
- Broadcast Date
- Created Date
- Asset type
- Media type
- Moving Image
Producing Organization: WTVI (Television station : Charlotte, N.C.)
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the
University of Georgia
Identifier: cpb-aacip-8e2000beb72 (Filename)
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- Chicago: “Ripples In Time,” 1989, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 26, 2022, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-526-319s17tp7c.
- MLA: “Ripples In Time.” 1989. The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 26, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-526-319s17tp7c>.
- APA: Ripples In Time. Boston, MA: The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-526-319s17tp7c