“I Left Everyone At Home” is entitled the exhibit show that includes ten handwritten, hopeful, and optimistic letters in different languages.
“All those who wrote the letters became victims of the Holocaust. They didn’t know their fate when they wrote it,” said Yona Kobo, the digital curator and researcher at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust research center and museum in Jerusalem.
“Each story is different and each family is different and that allows us to give them back their names, their human dignity and to commemorate them,” Kobo said.
Six million Jews, murdered by the Nazis in World War Two, will be honoured in Israel at the annual Holocaust Memorial Day on April 11.
“Hope to see you in good health, a thousand kisses, mommy,” were the last words Betty’s mother wrote to her before being sent with her eight-week-old baby to their deaths at the Sobibor Nazi concentration camp in eastern Poland in 1943.
Sitting at her home with a pastoral view from a hilltop town overlooking the Mediterranean sea, 76-year-old Betty Kazin Rosenbaum read the hand-written letter in Dutch from the mother she never really got to know.
Betty keeps her mother’s original letter in her home, but she provided a scanned copy for a new digital exhibition unveiled at Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem.
After spending several years in a ghetto in Amsterdam, the family separated. In 1943, two-year-old Betty was sent to a Christian foster home in the town of Eibergen in The Netherlands until the end of the war.
Her mother and eight-week-old baby brother were hidden by a Christian family in Neede, but were betrayed by locals in the town and were subsequently sent on a train to their deaths. The father, too, according to records, was eventually sent to Sobibor.
Betty did not know who sent her the letter her mother had written, nor the postcard did she write from the train. But the handwriting was the same as in the well-kept baby record book that she carried, along with several other articles, in a big square blue box that she brought with her from Holland when she immigrated to Israel in 1964.
“She always wrote with a lot of hope and never depressive,” said Betty with a smile. “Here she writes mommy. It is her and then I feel very close with her.”
Betty said sometimes she feels anger, but now she is focused on researching her family’s history, putting together the pieces of the puzzle and sharing her story with younger generations.
“The war years vanished, and they never told me anything. Now… there’s nobody to ask anymore and that is very painful,” she said as she looked at the fading photographs, prayer books and old, yellowing paper notes she has carried with her around the world.
According to Yad Vashem, fewer than 80,000 Holocaust survivors are still alive in Israel.
By Elana Ringler