Valley Holocaust Survivor Recounts the Horror

May 15, 2009 10:07:47 PM PDT
World War Two may seem like ancient history to most of us but for one valley man it is a searing chapter in his life. One that is wrapped up in death. His is a story of survival and the reason he was recently honored by the California's state assemblyAt eighty nine Aaron Abraham may seem frail but his determined hold on life was forged during a dark time in history and the German concentration camps of World War Two. He told us, "We used to have a house. We were seven brothers and sisters, my wife, my father and my mother."

His was one of thousands of Jewish families in the northern Greek city of Salonika. When the Germans arrived in 1941 deportation of some 70-thousand Greek Jews began, including Abraham's entire family, "I was 6, 7 months married and they took her out of my arms and the next thing, she was not there." In a series of camps he survived by stealing food from his Nazi and volunteering to work horrible jobs in factories and other camps.

This spring Abraham joined the list of other holocaust survivors honored annually by California and on Friday Clovis Assemblyman Mike Villines visited the survivor to make it official, "Aaron: I appreciate you coming. Villines, I appreciate you telling us your story."

His tortured story unwinds with details of beatings, killings, burial of tiny babies and children, lack of food and dignity. And of the last time he ever saw his wife, "They got her in block 7, nude. Nude, to take her to the gas chamber. This to my little wife, Esther."

He lived through more than two years of those hellish camps. After the war and his liberation in 1944 he had no home to go to. Emigration to America brought a new wife, five children and good life. Still the past lingers. Most nights he doesn't get much sleep, "Every night I got somebody in my bed or next to my bed talking to me. I wake up and it takes me a minute or two to realize it's a dream."

He finds energy, solace and purpose by painting those disturbing images. The war and the silent deaths of an estimated six million Jews pour out onto his canvas. One image, a view of the earth wears a smiling face whose lips are tightly, "But nobody say a word. They put a zipper over their mouth, all the planet. Everybody was nice and quiet, keeping a secret."

A secret he works to expose every time he tells his life story.

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