Living with a trauma
During one of his "journey to the roots” tours in 1998, Rolf Shimon Mayer was able to show his grandson, Uri, the Jewish cemetery in Laufersweiler for the first time.
Mein Gebet in der Morgendämmerung (My prayer at daybreak)
Man sagt, es gäbe Jugend (They say there was a childhood)
Ein Lied an Ella Miriam (A song for Ella Miriam)
Chanan Somberg: Elegies
For 40 years, Chanan Somberg evaded the work of coping with his past. In the 1980s, however, this Holocaust survivor finally did travel to Poland together with his son and to the extermination camp at Treblinka. There, he found himself confronted directly with his internment and the death of his family members. His memories returned with harrowing „convulsions“; experiences he ultimately dealt with in the form of „elegies“, or lamentations in memory of his family. Somberg describes just how these originated as follows:
When I decided to travel to Poland, I laid awake that entire night because my doubts and misgivings didn’t leave me a moment’s peace. […] When I was finally able to doze off, I dreamt of my family - as always with my mind drifting to situations associated with the horrors of those times, and similar to thousands of my previous dreams about the suffering and the death of my family. […] I screamed and cried, then awoke with my tears still shedding. I jumped out of bed covered in a cold sweat and felt compelled to go to my desk. My hand wrote down the letters, with the letters becoming words and the words becoming sentences; sentences that burned in my bones like fire. The ink was blood; my life’s blood! And so these elegies took form, written in my lifeblood, in memory of my loved ones who were as inseparable in life as they were in death.
Somberg’s elegies were translated into German by his friend, Hans Shimon Forst from Kastellaun, and are read here by Lis Braun.
Passing on the trauma from generation to generation
Was ihnen blieb...
Mein Großvater und ich
Thalfang nach der Reichspogromnacht