Written by Fernando Milanés

2 de mayo de 2023

The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was the genocide of European Jews during World War II. Between 1941 and 1945, Nazi Germany and its collaborators systematically murdered some six million Jews across German-occupied Europe; around two-thirds of Europe’s Jewish population.

Today I would like to remember the more horrific action taken by men against other humans.      

I am not a Jew, though I have from my school in Cuba, and work acquired many Jewish friends.    Since my first memories of life, I was taught the evils of discrimination, including differences in skin color, religious beliefs, homeland, etc.    

My sister and I went to eclectic schools, since 6th grade till graduation at Ruston academy.    

Even though Catholic based schools for boys and girls were prominent and many, there were in the pre-Castro’s Cuba many like Ruston.    

In that school we had many Jewish classmates, which as far as I was concerned it was of no relevance.   

I did acquire a personal knowledge of the horrors, and existence of concentration camps at 10 years of age.    

At that time, we had a math teacher named Dr. Bernard Gundlach.    

He had an innovative way of teaching math to children that was difficult to understand.    

Like many well-known European Jews, he escaped Hitler’s Nazis for the US, with a step-over in Cuba.  

 I was one of the few that excelled in his approach to the extent that he wanted to take me with him when he was proposed employment as Professor of math at the University of Arkansas.   

His wife and he lived in the school’s street in a house provided by Ruston.     

He took me there once to meet her.  When I came into their home, I saw a photo of a very beautiful blonde woman.    

“She is my wife” he explained as he called a name.    

What I saw was a very old, disfigured woman that I assumed was his mother.    

Gundlach must have seen the look in my face, because he said, “she was in a concentration camp”.   

As tears began, he quickly took me out where I was able to openly cry!    Even now 77 years later, including as I write of this memory, my eyes redden.   

 I have vigorously argued with some Holocaust deniers’ acquaintances.    

I saw the proof and will never/ever forget!

Today we all should shed a tear for the innocent and swear that this inhuman action will never happen again.

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