I am a member of the third generation, a term that is relatively new and refers to the children of the children of survivors. My mother’s father, Moshe Nemeth, is a Holocaust survivor, and, growing up, my grandfather was a very important part of my life. I was born in Bloomington, Indiana and my family moved (back) to the NYC area when I was not yet kindergarten age. My grandfather was always a short drive away from our home on Staten Island — first in Canarsie (Brooklyn) and then in Bayside (Queens).
I remember sitting on Grandpa’s porch on 86th and Flatlands in Canarsie with Great Aunt Betty.
I remember the green awning, the plaid folding chairs, and the way she described the train tracks entering Birkenau.
I remember writing my “autobiography” in the third grade, taping pictures to pink and purple construction paper, describing my grandfather as a student of engineering. Before the war.
I remember my grandfather describing how he would walk to the well to get water for his family in Slatvina, Czechoslavakia, also before the war.
I remember the inside of my grandfather’s fridge in Bayside, Queens, and how no matter how empty it looked he always had a container of boiled chicken and some tuna fish for protein.
I remember when Great Aunt Betty told me about how she and my Great Aunt Raiza were in line for the showers, close to the front, when an older woman switched places with them. Aunt Betty was only 9. They survived.