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NAVIGATION

15

May

Black Days and Nights:The Story of Leon Rajninger as a Holocaust Survivor

 

Friday May 12th, our eighth grade class hosted a very special guest, Leon Rajninger who shared his story as a Holocaust Survivor. Over winter, the eighth grade studied the book Night by Elie Weisel over the course of six weeks. They also had to complete individual book reports on stories they selected covering the Holocaust. A big thanks to the Jewish Family and Children’s Services Speakers Bureau for helping make this experience possible. This is something we (students, faculty, &  staff) will never forget.


Leon was born in Bukovina, Romania and was eight years old when the Second World War started. His Holocaust story is one of the Romanian Holocaust, also known as, The Forgotten Cemetery. He shared the extended version of his book, which is pictured below; and  answered a few questions in the end.

In the early morning, we were lined up for the march into the Mogilev-Podolsk camp. As we started marching with many armed Romanian soldiers guarding us, our family was the last in line. A young Ukrainian boy passed us polling an empty two-wheeled cart. My mother asked the soldier guarding us if we could put our backpacks on the cart. He agreed. With many packs, the cart was heavy to pull. We dropped behind and soon there was only one soldier guarding us. We were about fifty feet behind the rest of the group. The Mogilev- Podolsk Jews were standing by the roadside, warning us not to continue our journey. My mother gave the soldier some money as a bribe. Bless him, he looked the other way, and we grabbed all the bags from the card and escaped into the crowd.

We lived up on a hill and the only water pump was by the river. It was very hard to get water up in winter. By the time we reached the top of the hill there was very little water left in the bucket. So for most of the winter we just opened the door and scooped up a bucket full of snow. If we had some wood, we would boil whatever we had, like sweet beets or a potato. The first winter of 1941 was the worst for us, sitting in the dark with only one small window that was covered with ice and snow. In addition, we had a big problem with lice in the winter. My parents and I slept on a few boards elevated from the floor. We had only one blanket and my father’s coat, which was warm but had a lot of lice and was difficult to clean. Unfortunately there was no choice, because it was very cold, especially at night.


Leon wanted us to make sure we walked away with three very important lessons:

  1. Take care of your family, especially your parents when they get older. Do everything you can for them.
  2. Finish the highest level of education possible.
  3. Never lose control over your life.

      

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Posted on: May 15th, 2017

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