A GRANDDAUGHTER’S STORY
OF LEGACY, HEALING & HOPE
By Allison Nazarian
My maternal grandparents, Shlomo Reich and Pola Garfinkel (later, Sol and Paula Dash in America, and “Zeidy” and “Bubby” to me and many others), were born and raised in Poland, both members of large, traditional Jewish families.
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Both families were caught up by the happenings of history and became part of what later was called the Holocaust. I know far more details surrounding my grandmother’s story (for reasons that will be covered later) than I do about my grandfather’s. Bubby was incarcerated in the Lodz Ghetto for about four years. While there, she watched her father, Aaron, die before her eyes. My grandmother, her surviving brother, Henry, and their mother, Leah, were taken in 1944 by train (or a “kettle car, ” as Bubby said with her accent) to the infamous Auschwitz. Upon arrival, Leah, my greatgrandmother, was sent directly to the gas chambers, to her death.
Bubby was later “saved” from Auschwitz and sent off to various labor camps in and around Bremen, Germany, where she and other relatively strong young women were forced to perform hard labor, mostly related to clearing debris created as a result of the Allied bombings. In 1945, she was transferred to Bergen-Belsen, where she expected to be put to death. She was liberated from Bergen-Belsen in April of 1945.
My grandfather was in the camp known as Dachau. Unlike my grandmother, he had a number tattooed on his arm. That same number was immortalized on his gravestone. After the war, he and my grandmother met in a train station in Hanover, Germany. Both were refugees and had survived enormous trauma. They married in October of 1945. My mother, Lily (named after Leah), was born on January 12, 1947, in what had become a DP (Displaced Persons) camp in Bergen-Belsen.
In 1951, my grandparents and their only child, my mother, moved to Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Zeidy and Bubby died in 1991 and 2007, respectively. I came along in 1971 and my sister, Erica, in 1977. My mother died at the age of fifty-one in 1998, by suicide, four months after her first grandchild was born.