Child Survivor Reveals Never-Ending Holocaust
by Michael Jacobs
This article is originally published on the Atlanta Jewish Times. Please click here to read the full article.
Rabbi Joseph Polak was 50 years old and visiting Paris to give a lecture on Jewish law in July 1992 when he had an urge to open a door into his past by taking a quick trip to Germany to see Bergen-Belsen.
He couldn’t remember the Nazi camp, but he and his parents were held there for more than a year until they were crammed onto a freight car and shipped east in the final weeks of World War II. That final journey killed his father and nearly did the same to his mother before Soviet troops freed them.
It wasn’t until his return to Bergen-Belsen that Rabbi Polak began to understand how the end of the war in 1945 didn’t end the Holocaust for him and so many other survivors — a theme he explores in depth in his memoir, “After the Holocaust the Bells Still Ring,” which won a National Jewish Book Award last year.
Depending on how he reads his audience, it’s also a theme he will discuss Sunday, May 8, when he is the keynote speaker at the Marcus Jewish Community Center’s Yom HaShoah commemoration.
His story of a child born in Nazi-occupied Holland in 1942, surviving Westerbork andBergen-Belsen, and fleeing to Canada with his mother in 1948 has been seen as the continuation of the life of another Jewish child, Anne Frank, whose diary ends with her capture in Amsterdam.
Join the Yom Hashoah commemoration at the Besser Holocaust Memorial Garden this Sunday, May 8. Click here for details.