Some basic facts about the Holocaust are essential before I move on to the next part. As we all know, about six million jews were killed in the Holocaust. This was more then half of the eleven million Jews that existed in the world at the time. Other groups that were persecuted were Catholics, Gypsies, Russians and POWs. The work camps that the prisoners were forced to reside in were deplorable. Imagine the worst living conditions that one could live in and multiply it by three. That's how bad the barracks were. the "beds" were concrete or wood that caused unimaginably painful back problems for people. Then there are the inhumane guards and their hellhounds. These cujos are trained and bread for the sole purpose of ripping prisoners to death for acting out of line. And that is on a good day. At their worst, these German Shepherds will eviscerate the inmates for literally no reason at all. All at the drop of a hat.
Getting to hear Rueben speak was moving to say the least. I could tell from the moment he started speaking that he had experienced hell on earth several times over. If being forced to live in a ghetto separate from the rest of their community was not enough, then having to scrounge for food 24/7 would be enough to drive a person crazy. Reuben and his family had to make ends meet by going from door to door selling their possessions. It wasn't even close to enough to survive. Being uprooted from his home was not even the worst of what was to come. He had to survive death marches, inhospitable living conditions and inhumane Nazi guards. Don't even get me started on how Reuben was forced to work in dangerous weather conditions. He was stripped of his dignity, had his faith in his God shattered and then was forced to beg for his right to live. Yet somehow, he never lost the will to live. Despite always worrying whether he was going to die or whether the next dead body he would see was his sisters, Reuben never quit living. He learned to not take life for granted. Ruben eventually came to terms about what happened, and while he can NEVER forget what happened. Reuben learned that life goes on by coming to terms with these feelings. He came to terms with them by living a normal life and educating the younger generations on the horrors of the Holocaust. Reuben knows that he is the last of a dying breed. Soon, his kind will die out and all that will be left is what memoirs that are recorded. The first hand accounts of Holocaust events are soon going to pass away soon. Everything else will be recorded through the academic journals, archives and other compendiums.