Saturday, November 11, 2006

Survivor passes down Holocaust photo album

From The Miami Herald, Mon, Nov. 06, 2006, BY ELINOR J. BRECHER [thanks Jakob, for drawing this to our attention]...

A unique Holocaust photo album that a Miami waitress safeguarded for decades is on display this week at the University of Miami.

As a child, Esther Kramer sometimes awoke to shrieks in the night, and she knew that her mother had brought home another stranger. She knew that the stranger had looked at her mother's photo album, perhaps spotting a familiar face.

Esther Zelmanovic Kramer, 59, lives in Palmetto Bay. Her mother, Lilly Jacob Zelmanovic, was a Hungarian Auschwitz survivor who settled in South Florida after World War II and waited tables -- first at South Beach hotels, then for 28 years at The Famous, a landmark Miami Beach eatery. All that time, she sheltered a priceless Holocaust artifact: an album containing photos that a Nazi soldier shot on a single day in the spring of 1944 at the Auschwitz death camp.

...Scores of black-and-white photos follow 3,500 Jews along the path that 1.6 million doomed prisoners trudged -- from the railroad siding where they tumbled out of boxcars to the doors of the crematoriums.

...The young Lilly Jacob found the album at Mittelbau-Dora-Nordhausen, a German concentration camp, 400 miles from Auschwitz, that American soldiers liberated on April 12, 1945. The first photo she saw: the rabbi who married her parents, Esther and Mordechai Jacob. Then two of her five brothers, one of her grandfathers and herself, shaved bald.....

...Esther Kramer remembers her mother often saying of the album: "One day this will be yours to carry on.'' It felt like an unwanted burden. ''As a child, it represented so much hurt to me,'' said Kramer. "I grew up so different from my friends: no grandparents, aunts, uncles. The book represented everything I didn't have. So [donating it to Yad Vashem] was the best thing. It'll be preserved forever as opposed to being a legacy for me to propagate.''

Follow this link to read the full article including Esther's story and follow this link to see a Miami Herald slideshow sample of some of the photos.

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