Video Testimony

August 24, 2005  Thanks to all those who made it to Makor Wednesday, August 24. For those unable to attend, we watched video testimony of Serena Farkas. Serena is a survivor of Auschwitz and the grandmother of member Gabe Farkas.

In the four-part video, produced by the Shoah Foundation, we learned of Serena Farkas's experiences. Of note:

  • Born in 1922, she is originally from Tirgo Mares in the Transylvania region of present-day Romania.
  • In 1940, the Hungarian army moved her and her family to a ghetto in the forests of Romania.
  • In 1944, they were sent to Lodz, Poland where she worked making munitions.
  • Soon after, she and her family were deported to Auschwitz. With her were her parents, four siblings, aunt, uncle, grandmother and grandfather.
  • She was the only one of her family to survive when Auschwitz was liberated by the Russians in '45. She soon returned to Romania.
  • In 1961, Serena and Jacob (Gabe's grandfather) left Romania for America. Gabe's father was 14 at the time.

Watching the film prompted some questions:

  1. Should there be criteria for the label "survivor"? We reached a consensus that the term survivor does and should include anyone who was in Nazi-occupied Europe (or nations allied with Hitler) and lived through it regardless of whether they saw a camp, or a ghetto or a Nazi.
  2. What and when did she know of her family's fate? How did our grandparents cope with not knowing the fate of family members for so long?
  3. Why did the Nazis tattoo numbers on inmates they were sending to the gas chambers? Serena told how the Nazis would mark a "K" on those destined for the crematorium, to ensure that they "wouldn't get lost" along the way. Serena then showed her tattoo. She had an "A" for "arbeit" (work).

Towards the end, we discussed what's coming next for our group:

3GNY’s September event will be a little different. We will be a part of “Jewzapalooza” on Sunday, September 25th. We have reserved a booth and will have members there to meet, greet and answer questions.