Holocaust Survivor Tomi Reichental
A Talk with the Past
On the 26th of April the students and staff of Kinsale Community School were honoured to meet Holocaust survivor Tomi Reichental. For the next hour and a half we were to be taken through a story that would provoke sadness but most of all a story that would light the flame of hope. As it was such a remarkable event the school took the opportunity to film this historic moment and capture the tale that would bring tears to the eyes of those even with the hardest of hearts.
Tomi began his tale with the telling of his childhood years. He told us of his life in Slovakia as a young boy only just starting school. He mentioned much about the cruelty of Nazi but some of the most tear jerking moments came from the stories of hardship inflicted on his family by the people he lived among within their community. How even at a young age children were so cruel to the young Jewish boys by throwing rocks and calling names. All this hatred had been summoned through Nazi propaganda, which fuelled the growing hatred towards those of the Jewish faith and exposing us to the unimaginable hardships these people had suffered.
As his story progressed and he told us of the day he was imprisoned, “I was captured with my mother, grandmother, aunt and cousin. We were herded into a cattle car and from that moment onwards, we were treated worse than animals” he helped us to understand the true reality of the relentless Nazi army who caused so much harm to these innocent people and the conditions that they were treated under that weren't even fit for animals.
Throughout his story Tomi made the point of explaining the importance of forgiveness and how by carrying anger and hatred that it doesn't affect the people you are directing it towards but instead it festers inside you. He told us that even though he had lost 35 members of his family in the holocaust he did not resent the Nazis, that even in his darkest hours when he watched his grandmother die before his eyes and be disregarded amongst the hundreds of other lost souls he was hopeful that he would live to tell the tale and keep the memory of those he had loved alive. To me this was a remarkable statement and a true sign of a survivor, he didn't let these cruelties affect the life he hoped to live and as quoted by Martin Luther King “Let no man pull you low enough to hate him”.
As a school, the historical impact this talk made on all the lives of the students and teachers is of incalculable value. These survivors are slipping away and in order for the memory of the holocaust to live on it is essential that we, as the upcoming generations acknowledge the mistakes of history so that these unspeakable horrific events never happen again.
Aoife Kelly 5th Year