Making rounds at Israel's Rabin Medical Center on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, 2024

"During my rounds in the Neurology department I begin talking with a patient and his wife. He immediately recognizes my German accent and starts conversing with me in German (without an accent; he speaks Hebrew, German, Yiddish, Hungarian, English, and French) and tells me his story:

"He and his family are from Hungary and lived in Antwerp, Belgium. Two days before the Wehrmacht marched in (May 10, 1940), they fled by train to Marseille, and his father joined the Resistance, forging passports, but was denounced in 1943, arrested, and deported to Auschwitz, where he was murdered. The mother fled from Marseille with two children to Switzerland, but were turned away at the border by the Swiss authorities. However, since the mother was heavily pregnant, a doctor decided against the refusal, and they lived in the Canton of Zurich. My patient grew up with a Christian family in Zurich, and in 1946, the mother decided to emigrate to Israel with all three siblings.

"As his wife tells me today, there was no contact for many years with the family in Zurich who had raised him, and it was extremely difficult for my patient not to know them. In 1987, the older brother became the Israeli ambassador to Switzerland, and a picture of the family from when they lived in Switzerland was published in a newspaper. On the picture, the elder foster sister recognized my patient (then 3 years old) and contacted the family. Since then, my patient and his wife have traveled to Switzerland every year, and a relationship as close "as only siblings can be" (words of the wife) developed. The "Mutti" who raised him, unfortunately, passed away a year earlier."

There are hundreds of thousands of stories like these across Israel and the world. We all share the collective sadness, mourning and inspiration of these stories, and hope, despite all the tragedy around us, that we can someday look to better days.

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