Monday, June 17, 2013

R.I.P. Anschel Warschau

Today I attended the funeral of one of the three remaining holocaust survivors in my area. It was a privilege to have known Anschel and, before her death, his wife, Fela.

We met them at the mall. My husband used to eat lunch there, and another gentleman was there at the same time as was Fela, while her husband walked the mall with a local group. Soon this other gentleman began to insist that, since they were there together so often, they should sit together and converse a bit. Before long, this older gentleman had invited me to join them. I was homeschooling at the time, so we eventually settled on the once a month lunch between us that we kept to for several years. Even after the mall's restaurant closed, we would take turns buying pizza and bringing it to the mall to sit in the small seating area and share lunch.

 Anschel was a quiet man where his wife was outspoken. He had a good sense of humor and a laugh that encouraged others to laugh with him, but my last memory of him was one of him weeping over the loss of his beloved wife. We had heard that he wasn't eating at the first lunch after Fela's funeral, so we ordered him a pizza-vegetarian - as Fela would have ordered it to be kosher and I took it to him after the rest of us finished our monthly lunch. Even that was a testimony to how strongly these two valued the gift of life.

He no longer joined us for lunch after Fela's death, although we would ask about him every month and heard about his daughter's care of him and his continued walking in the mall with his group when he could.

I said it was a privilege to know him and his wife and it was. It was the privilege of knowing people who honored the Lord's gift of  life by continuing to live when dying would have been easier. People who fought to live when despair was their portion. People who lived when those around them were being killed for nothing, or as one of his daughters said at his funeral, shot for sport. It made me wonder, how many of us, were we in Nazi Germany today, would take in an escapee from the camps? Or throw a potato over the fence to those inside. It seems to me that as I look at the scandals in our government, happening on our watch, one after the other, with no consequences, that we may all too soon have the opportunity to find out. There is no "America" out there to come and save us from such evil this time.

The Jews say "Never Again". But I look at our current actions as a nation towards Israel and have trouble believing it. I look at Great Britain and Sweden and see the rise of a people whose doctrine is to drive the Jews into the sea while conquering the world for allah, taking over those nations by subverting their generosity. I read that the last Christians left Afghanistan and the Jews have been driven out of Norway and I can't help but think that "never again" seems very close indeed. I remember the accounts of Fela and others who went through the holocaust and I hear the warnings of  those who came to America to escape communism warning us over and over that it is happening here, now, under our noses and on our watch and I pray for my nation and my people and I pray also for Israel and her people.

As a tribute to Anschel and the completion of his journey through this life, I share a small portion of my blog space. It was an honor to share the world with someone who knows the value of life.

 Anschel's Obituary
"Anschel Warschau, age 93, of Sheboygan, died peacefully Thursday morning, June 13, 2013.He was born March 3, 1920, in Lodz, Poland to Pincus and Blima Warschau. He attended schools in his hometown, where his father was a baker and he was a baker's helper. After the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, they created a Ghetto in Lodz under their control. Being 19, street-smart and resourceful, Anschel sought any work he could to feed himself and his family. When he was sent to Strogen, a labor camp near Danzig, in May 1942, his family had been disbursed, one not knowing where the other had been sent. From July 1942 to October 1944, he was in the Kowno Labor Camp, Roja Labor Camp, Gavesen Labor Camp, Metenes Concentration Camp in Riga, Latvia, Kaiserwald Concentration Camp, Latvia, Stutthof Concentration Camp in Stutthof, and Buchenwald Concentration Camp, Germany. In October 1944, he was in Troeglitz Concentration Camp in Germany, until he was sent to Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in Czechoslovakia in April of 1945, from which he was liberated in May 1945. Anschel traveled a bit throughout Europe. Eventually he made his way home to Lodz looking and hoping for any family or friends. He had lost his parents, two brothers and two sisters. Ultimately he found himself in a displaced persons camp in Feldafing, Germany where he worked as a policeman. It was there that he met Fela Jakubowicz and they were married on May 10, 1946. The couple, along with their daughter, Martha, immigrated to the United States and settled in Sheboygan in 1951.

Anschel was employed at Hayssen Mfg Co., until his retirement in 1985. Anschel wholeheartedly supported his wife, Fela's mission to educate others about their story of the Holocaust. He, too, felt passionately that his life's experiences should hold a place in history, and that people should know the truth of what happened. If asked, he would provide stories and details of the horrors he felt no one could ever believe. He was interviewed in the late 1970's for oral history documentation, and years later for Steven Spielberg's Shoah Foundation. On October 2, 2011, the Mead Public Library celebrated the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Fela and Anschel Warschau Room created as the home of Sheboygan's Jewish Holocaust Collection. The Room opening celebration was held on September 16, 2001.

Starting in 1972, the year after their daughter, Martha moved to New York City, both he and Fela made yearly trips there, where they shared their love of theatre, activities and friends. Their reason to continue these yearly trips doubled when their younger daughter, Sally, also moved to New York.

Fela preceded Anschel in death on September 20, 2006.

Anschel was a faithful member of Congregation Beth El. Following Fela's death it was important for him to maintain his relationship with the Synagogue to continue the traditions that connected them to their faith and community.

He was a regular mall walker, where he met and made many friends over the years.
Anschel will be greatly missed and remembered particularly for his radiant and ready smile, jovial manner, positive attitude, his perseverance and resilience."
R.I.P. Anschel and Fela. May Never Again BE Never Again

"Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions." ~ Psalms 51:1

No comments: