Hedwig Schwarz, my great-aunt from Horb, Germany, in the beautiful Black Forest, was the lone survivor of deportation in her town. At the old Jewish cemetery in Rexingen, one can find her gravestone set apart, topped with stones left by each respectful visitor who wishes to pay homage.
When the Jews were rounded up in Rexingen, in 1941, Hedwig was swept up as well. Her husband Louis was taken to Theresienstadt, and did not survive. Her daughter and her grandson were sent to Riga in Latvia (why? Why send people so far away to kill them?)
In the photo of her, taken in Marienhospital, Stuttgart, we can see photos of the daughter and grandson, Freddie (Friederle), who was six years old when he was shot.
What makes Hedwig's lone survival all the more extraordinary, is that she was crippled before the Holocaust. She couldn't walk.
Part of the reason she survived was luck--she fell off the transport wagon and the Nazis didn't stop to pick her up. Someone else did pick her up, though--some nameless angels, who are also heroes. They took her to the selfless nuns at Marienhospital, who cared for her until she died in 1952.
The nameless ones are the Just, the ones who did not look out for themselves first, but for an elderly crippled Jew. They are heroes, too. We need more of their stories, to give us examples of how to behave in times of crisis.
Hitler wanted all the Jews to die. Hedwig Schwarz defied him and lived to bear witness.
Causes Marilyn Kallet Supports
Southern Poverty Law Center, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, ACLU, Amnesty International, Save Darfur.