Holocaust Memorial Day is on January 27, 2020 – as Auschwitz I, II and III were liberated by the Soviet Army on that day in 1945. 75 years will have passed. Over six million people were killed in the Holocaust. Most people died in concentration camps. Jews and Deaf people were targeted. In fact, if you were not a certain way or looked a certain way, you were considered imperfect to the Nazis and needed to be killed. The Nazis were trying to create a singular race that was perfect in their eyes, the Aryan race.
While there is a Holocaust Memorial for Deaf Jews in Tel Aviv, Israel that states it was established for the six thousand Deaf people that were killed in the Holocaust, there is no way to know for sure how many Deaf people were targeted.
The community has been exposed to information about the Holocaust through survivor stories on various shows. Deaf Mosaic, a Monthly Gallaudet University TV show interviewed a survivor, Stanley Teger, about his experience during the Holocaust. There are other interviews such as the one by Herb Larson; host of “Off Hand” a TV production of the Silent Network. He interviewed survivors such as Marion Intrator, Rose Feld Rosman, and Lotte Friedman. This was part of the LA TV Station and nationally over the Silent Network Satellite services.
Rochester Institute of Technology has a segment called Deaf People and WWII with rich documents and videos of individuals communicating about their experiences in ASL. This has given our community the opportunity to learn more about the impact of the Holocaust on the community.
The Holocaust Museum has photographs of Deaf children learning with the Photo Credit: USHMM, courtesy of Samuel B. Zisman from Bavaria, Germany (1947-1948). Another photograph that was donated by a person whose mother, Rebeka Jaglom Wajbcblum was photographed in the picture.
A story from the photograph (part of the story is shared) Two sisters who participated in the Auschwitz-Birkenau revolt of October 1944 were daughters. Jakub and Rebeka (Jaglom) Wajcblum. Both parents were deaf and could not speak. Ester was among the four young women who were arrested as co-conspirators. After being tortured, she was publicly hanged in Auschwitz-Birkenau on January 5, 1945. Hanka was later transferred to Neustadt Glewe labor camp, a sub-camp of Ravensbrueck, where she was liberated in May 1945 at the age of sixteen.
For more information about how Deaf people were affected by the Holocaust, some good reading material listed on the website: Deaf People and World War II Reading Materials.
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on The Deaf Report under the same author. This article has been placed on Deaf Vee Journal for archiving purposes.