The Washington Times-Herald
---- — The Classical Club met March 17 at the home of Cindy Wichman. Shannon Wichman reported the club’s donation to hospice. President Linda Myers announced officers for the next two years as Cindy Wichman, president; Linda Myers, vice president; Betty Norris, secretary; and Shannon Wichman, treasurer. Myers also asked for volunteers for the program committee.
Continuing the club’s study of the Holocaust, Misha Engleman gave a program on Livia Britton-Jackson’s story “I Have Lived a Thousand Years.” Set in a small farming town in Hungary, the main character is 12-year-old Ellie. The family was deeply involved in their Jewish faith. No One took Hitler’s threats seriously until he invaded Budapest. Jewish businesses were confiscated and schools were closed. In March Jews had to register at the town hall and were forced to give up their bikes, radios and jewelry.
In April all Jews were gathered in a synagogue in a ghetto area with little food. Ellie’s father was sent to a labor camp and all Jews were ordered to turn in any paper item they had, including pictures, birth certificates and books. They later saw the guards burning their precious possessions. Their rabbis tore their clothes as their sacred Torah and Talmud burned to ashes.
In May the Jews were shipped in cattle cars to Auschwitz. They were separated into two lines, those allowed to live to work and those sent to their immediate death. Those allowed to live had their heads shaved and were issued shapeless gray dresses. They were forced to endure twice daily roll calls of three hours outdoors in all weather. They slept in a room with no beds and no windows. Ellie and her mother were assigned to leveling a hill 12 hours a day. Mass shootings became common.
In August the work camp was evacuated back to Auschwitz for another month until they were again moved to Ausberg where they received better treatment until Nazis arrived to instill more brutal conditions again. As the Allies approach, the Nazis moved their prisoners eastward to Dachau. Finally in the spring of 1945 the American forces arrive. Slowly Ellie with her mother and brother make their way back to their village where they learn her father had died the night before liberation.
Out of 100 Jewish families, only 36 people returned from the camps. Ellie dreams of moving to Palestine. After earning a Ph.D in New York she did spend much of her life in Palestine where she felt comfort surrounded by her Jewish community. She did not write her story until 1990 with her message of hope Never Give Up.
Also in attendance were Pat Bailey, Judi Hill, Julie Lancaster, Katie Rumble, Nyla Wachter, Jan Wake and Suzi Wood.