This is what my client told me when we were driving from Kaunas to Klaipeda. It is a long way and when we have finished talking about the scenery, touristic questions and other things we kept quiet for some time. Not many people can keep silence, which makes them a bit uncomfortable. I also wanted to fill in the gaps of silence and my curiosity was pushing me to ask him personal questions, many of which brought the conversation to his Holocaust Story.
When we first talked on the phone Mr. Al told me that he survived Aushwitz and now wants to see how WWII went on in the Baltic States. We planned a private tour of 3 Baltic states in 9 days for him, which he kindly confirmed.
One to one private tour is a very interesting experience – you become either friends or enemies. We became friends and talked a lot besides the “guide – client” relations. It was obvious to me, that he wanted to talk about his past. He told that years after the war he was not even interested in the Holocaust and even did not think about it, but some 30 years ago he suddenly changed his attitude and even started hating Germans. I forgot to tell you that he lives in Germany today.
He lived in Romania and was sent to Auschwitz in 1944, spent there about 3 months and then was sent to a different camp. In which he spent quite a long time, then he was on death marches and was lucky and happy to survive it too. In one of the camps Al has reunited with his father, which was a real miracle in terms of the reality of 1944 – 1945.
“What the best day in your life” – I’ve asked Mr. Al once.
He hesitated not more than a second – “When I came from Aushwitz to a second camp. No doubt. There was a soup and a towel given, and the food was much better”
Such an answer forces you to rethink approaches and perspectives of your own life and the scale of preferences.
I have learnt so much from that handsome person with a number under his shirt on his arm. I was rethinking and recapturing the reality all the time.