It’s easy to love someone you’ve never met, especially when you learn about them through their big brother who loved them so…
This was my Aunt Klari, my grandpa’s little sister. She was killed in Auschwitz when she was 15-years-old — the same age as Anne Frank. She doesn’t have a famous diary, and everyone doesn’t know her story, but she lives in my heart, and I’ll never forget.
It weighs on you when you’re a little kid, knowing you’re named after a person who lost their life in such a savage way.
I feel a responsibility to experience things for the both of us — because I have the opportunity to live and she didn’t.
I’m obligated to live well and have a meaningful existence in her honor because she wasn’t just a victim; she was a growing woman who is described as the smartest of all the siblings, a little bit serious, and very strong-willed. Who and what would she have been? Would she have had children and where would they live and what would they have been like?
I just want one hug from my aunt, this person I’ve never met.
A grandpa smothering me with kisses and telling me I’m his answer to Hitler. An aunt who said that I both share her sister’s name and that I remind her of her lost sister.
The pain emanating from my aunt who saw her sister taken away at Auschwitz but still searched for her face in the documentaries about survivors on Yom HaShoah, because we have tikvah (hope) — it’s in our blood.
Klari died because she developed a rash on her hand. An entire life wasted over that. They made them clean with harsh chemicals and no gloves.
The smell of bleach on my hands makes me physically sick, something I can only describe as an ominous sensory experience.
And I amend my statement, you can love and miss someone you’ve never met.
The scent of bleach never really comes off, even if you scrub it. The same goes for the memories and this empty space can never really be replaced or filled.