Missing a Generation

I belong to a few Facebook groups for 2Gs. A 2G is a child of a Holocaust survivor. Since my mother and her parents survived, I am both a 2G and a 3G. Yesterday someone from one of these Facebook groups posted a very simple question: Did any of your grandparents survive the Holocaust? He added a survey where you could “vote” for 0-1-2-3-or-4. His question has been up for just over 24 hours and at this point there have been almost 140 comments and over 250 votes. As far as the “voting” goes the results are coming in like this:

None = 148   1 = 44   2 = 51   3 = 5    4 = 6

These numbers speak for themselves. Out of 256 2Gs, 148 grew up without grandparents.

Here is what some of the 2Gs said in their comments:

What’s a grandparent?”

“My parents survived. My grandparents unfortunately did not. Growing up, I was envious of my friends who did have grandparents.”

“My dad lost his parents and 6 siblings.”

“The closest I had to a bubby was my mom’s maternal aunt … who came to the Bronx, … in the 1920’s.”

“Never had a grandparent & didn’t know any kids my age whose parents were survivors who had them.”

“Both my parents were concentration camp survivors. Their parents were murdered in the Shoah, so I never knew them. I wish so much that I at least had a photo of them, but sadly, I have no idea what they looked like. This is something that continues to upset me. At least one photo.

Imagine family gatherings that have complete generations missing. No dropping the kids off at grandma’s house so that mom can get the errands done. No stories from grandpa about “the good old days.” Life without grandparents is one without extra sets of arms for hugs and without the chance to learn wisdom from one’s elders.

I stopped short as I read through the comments. I realized, yet again, that I am not a typical 2G. Not only did my mother survive with her parents and her brother, her paternal grandparents survived as well. All of them in the camps – together! My great-grandmother lived to be 92 years old and even though she lived the rest of her life in Amsterdam, I had the good fortune of meeting her once when I was about 10 years old.

Muttchen had broken her hip and had trouble walking. She had a kind smile and many wrinkles in a slightly overweight and round face.

I met her in the early 70’s and I remember thinking that she was ancient. She didn’t hear very well – or maybe it was that she just didn’t speak English. I thought she was half blind because she thought I was my brother and my brother was me. Later I realized that since I had shorter hair than Peter, she thought I was the boy and he was the girl. It was the 70’s after all! As a ten year old I didn’t appreciated what I had – a great-grandparent!

I never thought of it before, but my brother and I may be the only children of a Holocaust survivor to have actually met our great-grandmother! So I’m a 4G as well.

Before posting this I checked with the author of the original question to make sure he didn’t object to my writing about it. We had a nice chat on the phone and shared some of our common, but different, family histories. Another connection. Isn’t that what this is all about?

3 thoughts on “Missing a Generation

  1. Gabriella Sternberg Malec says:

    i think I am a 1G, and a 2 and 3G. I was 2 when we escaped Germany..my Mom, Dad and I. We left 2 sets of Grandparents, an Aunt, Uncle and 7 year old cousin. One Grandparent, my maternal Grandmother got out in 1941. The others perished. My birth certificate has a nazi swastika, and no parents or any identifying notes on the certificate. This is very disturbing. It makes me say “who am I”?

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