Friday, November 11, 2005

Veteran’s Day

She survived the Warsaw uprising, Auchschwitz, and Bergen-Belsen.

Less than five feet tall, Mrs. Diament’s size belies her strength. Well over 80, she drives daily from the suburbs of Memphis to her office downtown where she owns a paper company. She shared her story today at a World War II remembrance day at Memphis Harding Academy,

Asked if there were any good moments--any kindnesses shown to her by the Germans in the camps, Mrs. Diament said no. Whatever you have heard about the camps, she said, the reality was worse. Hungry for five years, she weighed 60 pounds when the Allies liberated Bergen Belsen.

Months after liberation, her husband came to the door of her sister’s home in Belgium. She had not seen him for three years.

Having no desire to live in Europe, they found their way to Memphis. For years, busy with work and family she did not dwell on the terrors of the camps. Now, her husband deceased and her children grown, she is often alone.

Memories haunt her loneliness.

When asked what message she would give to children today she seemed to wave the question way. She is pessimistic. She laments the way the “we must never forget” talk languished as cruelty raged through Cambodia, Bosnia, and Sudan.

She wanted to live at least one day longer than Hitler. Now, sixty years after the end of the war, she finished the interview, and briskly refused assistance as she walked off the stage.

Her strength sings.
Her pessimism stings.