Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

A Special Bond This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By
   Ever since I was very young, I've had a strong and special bond with my grandfather, whom I have always called Zaydie. To Zaydie, his family is the most important thing in the world and he reminds me of that as often as possible.

Zaydie has always been there for me, supporting me in everything I have ever done. I always wished that there was some way that I could repay him for everything he has done for me. How lucky I feel that I was given that chance.

In December, 1991, Zaydie asked me to go to Germany with him to attend the trial of Josef Schwammberger, a Nazi, who was being tried for the deaths of countless Jews whose only crimes were being different. Zaydie was to testify at the trial. He was the lucky one in his extended family of 60, the only to survive the torturous hands of madmen like Schwammberger.

As I sat there watching Zaydie testify against this murderer, I remembered something. Many years before, Zaydie had told me about Schwammberger. Every story contained one essential element: "I'll never forget those evil eyes," he had always said. Days before the trial I had nightmares about those eyes. They stared me down, frightening me and never seemed to disappear. I tried to envision what memories those evil eyes would spark in Zaydie.

I would soon learn, for the moment Zaydie saw Schwammberger he broke into tears. He wept throughout his four hours of testimony, referring to specific killings and beatings of others as well as himself. I wept along with Zaydie for as he went over every horrible detail, I felt his pain. Whenever I blinked I saw those evil eyes. They became a symbol for me of pain and torture, and sorrow.

Throughout the testimony, I thought of how proud I was of Zaydie. He was showing them all that we, the Jews, had won. I also thought of the moving words of one striking passage I had read in Zaydie's memoirs about a previous trial he had testified at. "At the end of my testimony, I asked the judge to allow me to say something to the accused men. He agreed and I stood up and asked the seven men to look at me. You did not kill me even though you wanted to ... here I am to tell you that the whole world is going to understand what happens to murderers like you." These words stuck with me for the whole trial because it finally seemed, for me, that the world maybe had begun to see, and the murderer we faced that important day would finally get what he deserved.

Zaydie is Edward Blonder. He was born in Jaslo, Poland to a devout father, Faivel and strong-willed mother, Sarah. He was one of seven children who, until their deaths, never lost their faith, hope and love for one another. When the war broke out Zaydie was nineteen. For him, the years that are supposed to be the best of your life, were spent moving from one hellish camp to another, experiencing one beating after another and crying one lonely night after another. "I remember looking up to the sky and saying, AOh God, look at us. What is happening?'"

That is Zaydie's past. His future lies in me. He frequently tells me stories of his terrible war days, believing that the more he tells me, the less likely I am to have to suffer as he did. He tells me of the loneliness of his youth and how all his faith, hope, and love died with his family. He also tells me how the light of my eyes brings that faith, hope and love back to him.

I learned more in that one week in Germany than I ever have or ever will. I learned how important it was to Zaydie that I be there, not only to support him and be there for him, but also just to watch, to see that he was making sure that the world never forgets. And it is my duty, not just as a third generation survivor or as a Jew, but as a person with regard for life and happiness and family that I make sure the world never forgets as well. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback