Wednesday, March 21, 2012

'From The Primus Stove to The Microwave Oven: firsthand look at Israel's 63 years rapid progress' –The Dress

Nurit Greenger

Memoirs, is what people write about; my memoirs intertwines with the history of the Jewish State of Israel, as the state's history parallels to my life's story. It is simple; I was born eight months prior to the birth of the state of Israel, to a holocaust survivor mother and an escapee from the Holocaust, then in the making in Europe, father.

In 1942, my father arrived to British Mandate Palestine, where he deserter General Anders' Polish Army, which he joined two years earlier, after escaping Ghetto Warsaw, at the age of 17 years old. Anders' Army was the informal, yet the common name of the Polish Armed Forces in the East in the period 1941–1942, in recognition of its commander Władysław Anders. The army, created in the USSR, evacuated, in March 1942, the Soviet Union and made its way through Iran to Palestine and that is when my father deserted the Goyim army and joined the Jewish pre-military group the Haganah. There, in Palestine, the Anders' army passed under British command and provided the bulk of the units and troops of the Polish II Corps of the Polish Armed Forces in the West, which took part in fighting in the Italian Campaign. As part of his hide from the British efforts, my father was given a new name, Broshi, that replaced his real, last name Gringer. For close to two years the Haganah sheltered Mr. Broshi from being found by the heirs of the Anders' army, the British, who were the bosses over Mandatory Palestine-in Eretz Yisrael Land.

Then, my father made it up to the British, by joining the Jewish Brigade in the British Army, in which he was assigned to an anti-aircraft unit stationed in the Belgique Coast, where he was busy shooting down Nazi airplanes.

At the time when my father jumped the wall of Warsaw Ghetto, to join the war machine as a soldier of the General Anders' army, my mother, at that time eighteen years old (1940), was rounded up with her parents and sister, who made up to Katz family, and other members of her family to Vilna Ghetto or Vilnius Ghetto. When the Nazis decided to take care of the Jewish problem in Vilna Ghetto, the Katz family went to through the "usual" path the Nazis have put Jews though. They first one was the Nazi Selection-Selektzia, in which my grandparents were separated from their daughters. It is believed, but not certain, that they were shot by the Nazis, along with 100,000 other Jews, and then they were thrown into a large excavation the Nazi dug in Vilna for that purpose of a mass grave for Jews. The Katz daughters spend the next five years in several Nazi labor camps, last one Stutthof Concentration Camp, which the Soviet forces liberated on May 9, 1945.

As the war officially ended, and upon regaining some strength, my mother made it back to Poland hoping to find family survivors, while her sister ended up in a rescue camp, in Germany, set up specially for survivors, on her way to Palestine Israel.

In Poland, my mother was recruited to work in one of the centers, the Jewish organizations set up to assist survivors to find loved ones and help them, in any way possible, to return to normal life.

Parallel, my father, who was still a soldier in the British army Jewish Brigade, took a leave and made his way to Poland, in search for family survivors. He found none but in his search, he stopped at the center where Ms. Katz was working to get assistance. Mr. Gringer and Miss Katz, now, both, almost 25 years old, fell in love instantaneously. My father piercing blue eyes fell in love with my mother sad and hazy blue eyes.

The newly in love couple departed from Poland to Paris, where Mr. Gringer bought his girlfriend a dress, the first dress she had since leaving all her possessions in Vilna Ghetto. I recall my mother telling me, not once, that at that moment when that dress became her property, it was hers, was the moment she first felt she was a human being again, a worthy person, a woman.

Being madly in love, my father overstayed his vacation pass. Upon his return to base, he was punished and detained, while my mother remained in Paris to wait for him. My dad did not make it back to Paris; he sent his closest friend instead, to see to his fiancé's welfare. Before his departure from Europe, back to Palestine Israel, my father arranged for my mother to be a passenger on a ship, loaded with war survivors Jews, that was headed to Palestine Israel. Unable to leave his duty, he assigned his friend to see that his fiancé safely departs to Palestine Israel on the vessel Biria. Biria was the last vessel of Ma'apilim-Jewish immigrates - who arrived to Israel Palestine's shores, while breaking the British White Paper immigration of Jews' decree. The passengers were taken off the ship and were detained in the British internment camp in Atlit. The next chips, that arrived to Palestine Israel shores, were turned back and their passengers were detained in British internment camps they set in Cyprus, among other

My father was a member of a group due to build kibbutz Lehavot Ha'Bashan, near the Syrian border, that, today, falls under the jurisdiction of Israel's Upper Galilee Regional Council. While the men, my father among them, were working to prepare the rocky grounds so that buildings can be erected on it, the women remained back, living in a tent camp near the town Haderah, south of Natanya.

Upon her release from the Atlit internment camp, Miss Katz joined Mr. Gringer's kibbutz group.

I do not recall much from those years, but heard many stories and saw some photos that were taken for posterity.

My parents wanted to get married but the Kibbutz did not have the money to throw a wedding. Other couples were waiting to get married as well. With six couples in line to be married, the Kibbutz finally agreed to shell out for six glasses for the grooms to step on and break during the wedding ceremony and pay for a rabbi to conduct the sixth couples wedding ceremony; the rabbi, however, exchanged the glasses to lesser quality ones and kept the glasses the couples brought along for other, better then breaking them use.

Most of the six couples' women were pregnant already, my mother included. They all wanted to get the ceremony over and done with, fast, so their condition will not become obvious to the rabbi conducting the ceremony. One couple, the woman was so far pregnant, they got the woman's sister to stand for the bride in the wedding ceremony.

Seven months after my parents got married, I was born. It was August 1947, eight months before Ben Gurion declared Israel as a sovereign state.

We first lived in the tenet camp and eventually all members moves to the kibbutz's permanent location.

My mother did not like thus last the Kibbutz life. The time she spent as a laborer in the Nazi Labor Camps took the toll.

What broke the camel back was the dress my father bought my mother in Paris.

After settling into Kibbutz life, my father worked, mostly in the cowshed and my mother worked as a children nursery keeper. They were very happy, they had a new life, they had each other, they had a daughter but life was hard and luxuries were not part of it.

Life in a Kibbutz was meant to be based on share and share alike. That applied to everything, including the only one dress my mother owned that had a very profound meaning to her. That dress that made her feel an individual and a woman once again. However, this Paris fashion dress, which was supper modern, was unlike any other dress that was available in the common Kibbutz wardrobe. So that very dress was often altered to fit a women, of all size and height, who needed it for a certain occasion. The dress became everyone's dress and my mother had to agree to share it with other kibbutz women members. That did not go well with the newly married and mother Mrs. Gringer. She wanted to remain the individual the dress has made her feel in after war Paris; she did not want to lose those overwhelming feelings she had when she walked with her boyfriend out of that Parisian boutique so soon after the War ended. My mother did not want to share with others what belonged to her only.

The result, my parents left the kibbutz life and set a home in the village, Nahalal, that falls under the jurisdiction of Jezreel Valley Regional Council. I was just a tad older than two years old.

There, in Nahalal, I have my first recollection of my early life; I was about three years old then.

The imprint of events, from the time I recollect them, equals to the life of the life of the Jewish state and those string of events have shaped me and made me a natural Zionist. More so, they have made me a proud Jewess , the kind that will fight for her fellow Jews and the Jewish Nation.

It is not easy to write about one's life, because events rapidly go through one's mind and overwhelm the thought process.

One day, as I was sitting at my computer, I heard a noise that sounded like a Primus stove, which eluded me to write this series. The portion of my life story that will evolve along the story of the Primus stove will be the next one in this series.

And till then shalom, which means, peace, completeness, and welfare as well as hello and goodbye (For now).

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