The Hamas attacks pose an existential threat to people in Israel: many of you are survivors, relatives of former prisoners or friends of the Flossenbürg concentration camp memorial. We have asked members of the Flossenbürg community in Israel, Sweden, the USA and Germany - with and without Jewish background - to share their thoughts and feelings with us and you.
"Der Überfall der Hamas-Terroristen auf unschuldige Menschen hat uns in seiner verbrecherischen Dimension in unseren Grundfesten erschüttert. Er hat uns erschüttert, weil wir mit so vielen Freunden, Bekannten, Kolleg*innen bangen, die um ihr eigenes Leben und das ihrer Liebsten fürchten. Er hat uns erschüttert, weil tief verwurzelter Judenhass abermals zum Motiv massenmörderischen Handelns geworden ist. Aber er hat uns bestärkt in unserer eindeutigen und festen Haltung gegenüber der israelischen Bevölkerung und unseren jüdischen Freund*innen auf der ganzen Welt. Wir werden uns weiter und noch verstärkt gegen Antisemitismus engagieren und keine Relativierungen dulden. Wir werden für unsere jüdischen Freund*innen und Bekannte stets eine verlässliche und sichere Institution sein. We stand with you!"
Jörg Skriebeleit, Leiter der KZ-Gedenkstätte Flossenbürg
“To whoever reads the following:
Israel is under attack.
I’ll tell you a tragic story about a friend of mine from a little place called Beari: The terrorist entered their family home, they destroyed everything inside and began looking for their shelter in order to kill the family. Once they discovered they couldn’t enter the shelter they burned their house down. They chocked the family inside the shelter. Mother with 4 kids stuck inside and chocking to death, the family couldn’t find their father for hours now, he was out fighting the terrorists so the family were all alone. They ran away from the window and entered their neighbors house, where they hid with them, but the terrorist burned down the neighbors’ house too.
Thankfully both families managed to escape and the father was found, he became a hero saving many people.
Both families and hundreds more don’t have a place to live anymore, their homes are destroyed.
Hamas terror organization tried to kill thousands of Israelis and still continues.
They do not care about a soul they have one goal and it’s to destroy Israel and kill every Jew they see.
They even raided an outdoor party and killed hundreds of innocent teens who simply came to have fun. 199 Israelis are kidnapped, children, women and elderly. Women were raped and Hamas posted videos of it online for the world to see.
Everyone I know in Israel had either had a family member die or know someone who is missing or died during this tragic time.
Israel is under attack and we can’t stay quiet anymore!”
Noga Marom, participant of the International Youth Meeting 2023, Israel
„Es ist Samstag, der 7. Oktober, und wir schlafen noch. Unser wunderbarer Aufenthalt in Tel Aviv, Sonnenschein, Familie- und Freundetreffen, das gute Essen … In einigen Tagen soll es zurück nach Stockhom in den regnerischen, windgepeitschten, schwedischen Herbst gehen. Um 7.30 Uhr werden wir geweckt vom Heulen der Sirenen was uns anfänglich wie Alarm vom Rettungsdienst oder die Feuerwehr vorkommt, dann aber folgte das dumpfe Aufprallen von Explosionen.
Wir erwachten aus unserer anfänglichen Verlahmung und suchten Schutz in unserem Sicherheitsraum. Als dann langsam bekannt wurde, dass Hamas-Terroristen im südlichen Teil Israels vom Gazastreifen ins Land Israel eingedrungen sind, um Terror und Tod auf die grausamste Art und Weise in einigen Orten in der Zivilbefölkerung zu verbreiteten, waren wir wie erstarrt: Mord an unschuldigen Kindern, Jugendlichen, Frauen, alten und jungen Menschen auf unvorstellbare Art, unmenschlich, blutrünstig, ein Progrom? Ich befand mich gefühlsmäßig direkt wieder am 1. September 1939 in Lodz. In meinen Ohren hörte ich Alarm und Warnungen von Stimmen aus Lautsprechern: »Achtung, Achtung sie kommen.« Warnungen vor den deutschen Attackflugzeugen, die über unseren Köpfen nach Warschau flogen.“
Leon Weintraub, Überlebender des KZ Flossenbürg, Schweden
„Die Leute sagen mir, dass ich gehirngewaschen bin, wenn ich nicht gegen Juden bin. Aber ich weiß, was richtig ist. Es ist 2023, und einige trauen sich nicht öffentlich zu zeigen, dass sie Juden sind, hier in Deutschland. Das tut mir weh. Ich bin nach Deutschland gekommen, weil ich Frieden will, nicht Hass.“
Teilnehmer des Projektes „ReMember“ aus dem Irak, Deutschland (Aufgrund von Sicherheitsbedenken möchte der Verfasser anonym bleiben.)
“Eleven days to the mass brutal killing in the Border of Gaza strip and I can't contain it and understand what makes humans be so cruel and sadist.
Orit (my wife) and I, were among the first group that settled Kibbutz Sufa in 1977 as part of our army service in the Nahal. We met in Sufa and got married in 1980 in old Sufa in northern Sinai, and rebuilt the new kibbutz and lived there until 1988. Two of our daughters were born there. Kibbutz Sufa was a symbol of a community that was ready to give their house and territory for peace with Egypt.
On Saturday a Ido Hobara that was with my daughter in the kindergarten in the kibbutz and his parents were among our friends to establish the kibbutz was murdered while trying to defend his family (wife and three children).
In Kibbutz Kfar Aza (on the north part of Gaza strip border) I have a family, that miraculously got out without a scratch, but my aunt, 87 years old, that established the kibbutz in 1955 experienced 30 hours in the safe room, the terrorist were in her house trying to get to her and she survived. When I spoke to her after the army got her out she told me that she could not stop thinking about my father (Flossenbürg survivor). That gets me to the endless circle of violence that I felt for a long time that we are over it.
As a second generation to a Holocaust survivor I never thought that there is a possibility that we will be back again to the fear of existence. That was the feeling on the first day, now it turns to frustration. We are doing our best to rehabilitate the country and the society. Me and many of my friends that are too old to be called for service are trying to think of the day after the war, how we can secure a better life and society for our children and grandchildren.
Flossenbürg is a symbol for me for a place that gives hope after all the dark days that were at the place, and for that reason I want to share my thoughts and emotions with you and through you.”
Ronen Katz, son of the Flossenbürg survivor Bernard Katz, Israel
“October 7th, 2023, Saturday morning, it's nearly 7:00, still in bed. For a few minutes the noise of a siren mixes with my dreams. I'm trying to stop it and force myself to keep dreaming, suddenly BOOOM!!! This left me no choice but to get up and find out that the sirens were warning us of missiles fired from Gaza.
What’s happening? How can missiles be falling so close to me? It must be Hamas, but they are at least 100 kms away. Nothing made sense.
As the Shabbat passed, more horrifying information came through of women who were raped, while kids and elderly people, some Holocaust survivors, were kidnapped, many people were burnt and beheaded. Hundreds of terrorists managed to kill tens of Israeli policemen, stole their cars and uniforms, killing innocent Israelis on the roads. Why??? Only because they were Jews.
All day everyone was hooked to the television, and on social media I saw that a husband of one of my ex-students was shot and killed at the outdoors music party. He was a musician. They have a 7-month-old baby. More news… an ex-student, 25-years-old, who was supposed to be released from the army and planned to celebrate life, was killed. The following day another ex-student, just 21-years-old, was killed after he was called up for reserve service. He was due to start university studies next week. More and more deaths of young and beautiful people, thousands wounded, many severely.
Israel hasn't occupied Gaza since 2005. Hamas violently deposed the Palestinian Authority in 2006 and since then has turned the life of the people of Gaza into a nightmare. They received so much money and instead of creating work and tourist sites, they built tunnels to get into Israel and kill Jews. Golda Meir said that if the Arabs put their guns down, there will be no war, but if Israel puts its guns down, there will be no Israel. We must protect our home; we must protect our people and the price is so high and painful.”
Ruth Robinson, helper of the International Youth Meeting 2023, Israel
„Ich habe oft ein ähnliches Gefühl wie die Juden in Deutschland und auch in Israel, weil man ein Recht hat in Sicherheit zu leben und sich zu verteidigen. Die Hamas schickt Menschen ins Grab, die unschuldig sind. Nicht nur die israelischen Bürger, auch normale Menschen in Gaza werden sterben wegen des Kriegs der Hamas gegen Israel. Was ich sehr schlimm finde: nach all dem, was Juden schon passiert ist, haben sie jetzt wieder Angst, auch in Deutschland.“
Teilnehmer des Projekts „ReMember“ aus dem kurdischen Teil des Iraks, Deutschland (Aufgrund von Sicherheitsbedenken möchte der Verfasser anonym bleiben.)
„When I spoke at Flossenbürg as a child of two Holocaust survivors whose entire families were murdered in the gas chambers, ghettos and gulags of the last century, and surely some in the pogroms and massacres in the ones before, I spoke as someone who had a direct lineage to the darkness. Yet that was not the point of my speech. It was about the legacy of the survivors - extraordinary strength despite adversity; adaptability, initiative and tenacity; and a moral imperative to transcend tragedy or become enveloped in its weight. I spoke about the vulnerability during war and my father reciting Psalm 121 – “I lift my eyes to the mountain, from where will my help come.” My daughter also spoke then that ‘never again’ does not mean that bad things will never again happen - we know they will - just look at the world today.
But I also spoke that our legacy as a family and as a people is not one of death and despair - we have always kept an unswerving faith in humanity despite having seen its darkest hours. It is one of optimism – contributing to humanity in ways disproportionate to our numbers – still realistic about the dangers and yet fiercely determined to never become mired in the swamp of hate. The values shaped by tragedy, but fixed with resiliency, are the inheritance - stand firm, stay grounded, press on and, as too few others around us embrace, be guided by a moral compass though always anchored in fortitude. It means that we, as a people - who never had dared hope for freedom and security – now command our own destiny and defend our place in the world fully aware of the double standard all too often lobbed our way. But always deeply remembering the survivors’ credo derived from the Book of Genesis, Am Yisrael Chai, the people Israel live.“
Helen Albert, daughter of the Flossenbürg survivor Oscar Albert, USA
„Was macht Mensch sein aus? Jenseits von Zerstörung und Gewalt sich ein gemeinsames Leben vorstellen zu können. Dieser Hoffnung Gestalt zu geben hält mich aufrecht, auch wenn diese immer wieder auf Grausamste erschüttert wird.“
Christa Schikorra, Leiterin der Bildungsabteilung der KZ-Gedenkstätte Flossenbürg