Speech: The Death March
* Speech written and read by Blima Lorber at the unveiling of the monument for 150 men murdered at Busno during the Death March
I am here by a miracle, a miracle from G-d. Thanks to this miracle my father dared to survive the most dreadful period of our contemporary history - The Holocaust.
It is with deep emotion that I am walking through the same paths where nearly 71 years ago my father, then a teenager, had to run for his life. He and about two thousand men who lived in the nearby town of Chelm had to run for their lives.
This place where we step now is sad and sacred at the same time. Here, it was recently discovered, the blood of 150 men, blessed be their memories, was shed like water by the Nazis. Why? Just because they were Jews. They were chosen and taken away from the group to dig their own graves and then they were shot to death.
They are all heroes, real heroes and we are here to remember them, to honor them, anonymous brave men. This ceremony, with the unveiling of this Memorial, is how we show our respect for them and also for all men who were killed at the Death March.
My Dad was only a scared but courageous teenager when he was gathered with all the other men from the town’s main square to run for his life. First, in the direction of Hrubieszów, around 50 km from Chelm, in one single day. The survivors were then put together with Hrubieszów’s men to run to Sokal, in the Ukrainian border. And again the same terror and atrocities.
Here are some fragments from the chapter on David’s biography about the Chelm Death March: “The Germans ordered the Judenrat to enlist the largest possible number of men, from 12 up to 60 years old, who, according to them, would be taken to work.
The Nazis started to call us and took away everything we had; beating and killing who refused to obey. We were put in rows and the order was to walk out of the town and then run. If someone refused he was shot dead. Nobody could speak nor look back or try to look at the person at his side. The Germans told us if someone would violate this order he would be immediately killed.
We tried with all our strength to run.
Run for our lives always under the fire of Nazi weapons, which shot without mercy.
We were taken like cattle to the slaughterhouse.
If an exhausted man could not run, he was taken away from the row and then a shot coming from the back was heard. The men who could not follow the march had fallen dead.
Those dead ones did not have a grave. Their bodies were left behind, on the ground. And we had to go on.
It was December, cold, wet and there was so much mud it was so difficult to walk and impossible to run. Each step we tried to give we sank deeper into the mud, but we could not stop, because at the back the Nazis were shooting at us.
There were also Germans at the row sides shooting at anyone who would try to flee or stopped. The SS were competing and bragging about how many men each one of them killed.
And we arrived to Hrubieszów. We were frightened, exhausted, thirsty and hungry. Most of us were wounded, feeling cold, but nothing touched the Germans, who did not show any feelings for us.
Hrubieszów’s men became part of the Death March. Soon they learned what it meant. They were victims of the same insane cruelty.
On 4th December we reached the border, the Bug River.
Of the two thousand Jewish men who left Chelm in this atrocious March, maybe, at the end, 200 of them survived”.
But other threats and dangers waited for them at the other side...
But David’s fate was to survive.
He had a mission to fulfill: to show the world how people were taken away from their daily activities, homes and families and then executed for being Jews, for having different political views and religions, for being different, for not submitting themselves to fanatismus and tyrannies, for struggling for freedom of thought, for respecting diversity.
My father passed away two years ago, at the age of 88. If he would be alive, you can be sure he would be here to ask you to use the education you are getting for good deeds for Mankind, not to let events like those that happened here take place again.
I want you to know that not only ordinary people followed Hitler. Learned and educate persons followed him, too. Engineers built the concentration and death camps; doctors, nurses and psychiatrists selected who was fit to work and to survive; chemists developed the zyklon B gas, teachers, professors, historians, philosophers, journalists, writers, filmmakers and many others were committed with the Nationalsozialismus.
So again, in my father’s behalf, I ask you to use your education to benefit Mankind and not as a tool for evil actions like the Nazis did in the Second World War, which took the lives of more than 50 million people, among them 6 million Jews.