On May 1 residents of the Muskegon County area gathered at Samuel Lutheran Church in the center city to recall the event we call Holocaust, or Shoah. Shoah is a biblical term which means a destructive wind which sweeps across the land devouring and consuming everything in its path, as did the Nazis and their client states between 1939 and 1945.
The guest presenter was Dave Lux, a Kindertransport survivor; that is, a child who was rescued when their parents gave them into the arms of strangers and save them from the terror and violence afflicting the Jewish communities in Europe. However, Dave did not come from Germany or Austria. The first Kindertransports addressed children in Germany and Austria. Nicholas Winton, an English stockbroker on his way to ski in the Alps was called by a friend who said he could not meet him and that Nicholas should come to Prague Czechoslovakia. When he arrived Nicholas saw children, hungry, cold and barefooted in refugee camps, who were forced out by the Nazi German occupation of the Sudetenland – a region of the present Czech Republic where there was a strong German minority. But it was only that region. Jews in what is present day Slovakia were being terrorized by the fascists led by their leader, Tiso. Dave’s family were Slovak Jews living in the southern part of present day Slovakia which was claimed by the Hungarians until they were forced out and back into Slovakia and sent to a work camp. (It is important to remember that Czechoslovakia, Poland, the Baltic states, Hungary and Austria were created after the defeat of Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.)
Dave’s parents were convinced, after several conversations with representatives from the agency formed by Nicholas Winton, to send their children on the train to England. In 1939 Slovakia separated from the German occupied area of the present Czech Republic (renamed the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia by the Nazis) and became the so-called First Republic of Slovakia (1939-1945). Dave and his brother along with scores of Slovak Jewish families, also Hungarian children and children from Gdansk, went to Prague and came to Masaryk Station and from there went to England.
Six hundred and sixty-nine children were rescued through Lord Nicholas Winton’s efforts. Dave and his brother lost their family in Slovakia, went to Israel as part of the Pioneer Movement established by Zionists. Dave discovered he had family in Brooklyn New York – his father’s sister – who kept writing for him to come which he did. And from there, discovering more family in Cleveland, moved once again and met his future wife Helene.
Dave shared his story of separation and loss and the rebuilding of his life. He held the gathering in in total silence as they listened to him unfold his account. As with all the survivors that have given us an account of their lives before, during and after the Shoah, we are reminded that now it is our responsibility to remember that story in how we make choices in our life in relation to others.
PDF: Muskegon Remembers