Today, three octogenarians described a flashbulb memory in their lives. Presumably like 9/11 for Americans, the entire memory was formulated in under a day, yet it is one that was so commonplace across Europe, the killing of Jews.
The first interviewee showed us the location of a “wealthy” Jew’s house where all the Jews were gathered and killed. Today, a soccer field takes its place, where kids naively play without any memory. An unmarked mass grave nearby serves as a final resting place where Kaddish is not said.
The second interviewee appeared unnerved by the camera and crowds, neither able to commit to not confirm the killings of Jews he earlier described.
The third interviewee pointed out a mass grave along the side of the road. Each stretch of road looked the same for miles and yet, this memory stuck.
In each instance, locations were left unmarked, leaving a hauntingly scant and barren collective memory of the mass atrocities. Yet, individual memories of some — albeit aging people – remain strong.
It appears to me that these interviewees could not fully understand, appreciate, or fathom the scope and ramifications of what they’ve done today. They’ve done a great service to a nonexistent collective memory, contributing to posterity, the precious legacy of previously unknown resting places of relatives and ancestors of so many. And now, there can be someone to say the Mourner’s Kaddish for them. May their memories forever be a blessing.