This astonishing photo of Hedwig Schwarz, my great-aunt, came to me almost by chance, via a distant relative in Los Angeles. Hedwig was one of the few Jews in the Horb/Rexingen area of Germany to survive deportation. She was crippled before the Holocaust, 45 years old at the time of the 1941 round-up of the Jews. She fell off the transport car, and somehow managed to get to Marienhospital in Stuttgart, where the nuns took care of her. Though the Red Cross has her listed in Theresienstadt at Liberation, other survivors I have met from that camp say that she would not have survived there. The variation in stories is perplexing, intriguing.
We will never know the names of the angels who picked her up and carried her to the hospital.
Hedwig wanted to be buried in the old Jewish cemetery in Rexingen, near her parents. She died in 1952. Her grave is one of the most often visited in the Rexingen cemetery. There are many stones on top of her headstone--each one has been placed by a visitor, as a loving tribute.
Notice the photos of her family on the tray table near her. I see her daughter, Hilde, her grandson, Siegfried (called "Friederle" or "Freddy.") Hilde and Friederle died in Riga, probaby shot in the forest at Rumbala. Freddy was six years old.
The survivors of the Holocaust are now in their eighties or nineties, and soon their stories will no longer be first hand accounts, but they will be our responsibility to hold in our words, our pages, and hearts. Several poems in Packing Light and in Circe, After Hours, are about Hedwig's journey, her courage to bear witness.
Causes Marilyn Kallet Supports
Southern Poverty Law Center, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, ACLU, Amnesty International, Save Darfur.