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.


Missionary's Missionary said...

This is a woman in need of prayer; join me, won't you?

Dana M. said...

Bev, I feel confusion. As I was reading through this blog, I felt the strength of her resolve and the pain of her tragic history. Then, as the story concludes, I felt pity for her bitterness and for how much I misunderstand so much about her.

I am not sure what to walk away with from this, but my mind is stirring. . .stirring. . . .

In sharing as part of a war remembrance event, did she mean to convey hope through the simple facts of her survival or was this just an opportunity for her to communicate something deep in her that needed a voice to find healing--to find comfort?

Thanks for stirring up my brain today. I've been feeling apathetic and over-stimulated lately. I needed depth to chew on for a while.

Give Ken my love. We still miss you terribly here!


Beverly Choate Dowdy said...

Sometimes a story is just that--the story. She was our guest and she told her story. The pessimism lays bare the fact that world was able to stand aside during most of the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia. America ignored the genocide in Rwanda, and we stand equivocal in Sudan.

I am asking myself some hard questions.

Dana M. said...

Our heads (or maybe our hearts) are in similar places it seems. I keep asking why we aren't doing more to help end these atrocities, and at the same time remaining frustrated with myself for not being smart enough to figure how we can help them.

I wear my white band and bug politicians at every chance to increase funding and healthy trade support--it's not enough.

I donated money to help a group of 5,000 young church leaders pay to build 35 clean water wells in Rwanda this year--that doesn't bring the victims back--it's not enough.

I talk and pray and read about all those who are suffering as the divisions of ethnicity, religion, economy and law grow ever larger in our "small world"--it's not enough.

So, when do the questions end and the answers come?

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say "hi". I also think it is great that you put this story up here. I, having my undergrad, in Social Science, now understand the importance of stories like this one. People don't understand that stories like this are what make us as a people who we are. Anyway, just thought I'd say hi and thanks for being a great teacher!

Beverly Choate Dowdy said...

How great to hear from you. So, you have joined the ranks of HU Social Science alum. Hope you enjoyed your days there.

Let me know where you are and what you are doing!

Anonymous said...

I know Mrs. Diament and her family. I've done business with them for many years, and practiced my Russian on her.

I was intrigued that on first reading one of your blogs, I encountered an old friend.