On Holocaust Memorial Day, Paul Calvert takes a deeper look into the legacy left from the genocide of 6 million Jews.

Taking a Holocaust survivor back to Belchez concentration camp. Left Ester (Holocaust survivor) Christa, Judith.
Taking a Holocaust survivor back to Belchez concentration camp. Left Ester (Holocaust survivor) Christa, Judith.

Originally from Germany, Christa Behr currently resides in Jerusalem. She takes Austrians and Germans to the concentration camps in Austria and Germany along with Holocaust survivors. Paul Calvert caught up with her to hear her heart for the Jewish people and the need for repentance on behalf of Germany and the Church.

Paul: How do the survivors react when they see the camps again?

Christa: I recently had the privilege of taking two survivors back to the camps, Auschwitz and Belgist, where their family had suffered. They were willing to go with us together with German Christians. What they did was share what their experience was like and they shared their hearts. It's very very important because people relate not only to a number like 6 million Jews killed, now they relate to one story and what it meant for them and their family and how a person suffered and suffers still from this terrible time which happened to them.

Paul: Does it bring back many painful memories?

Christa: Yes, they share about being in this block here or what happened on that morning and it's so bad and terrible that you really think how could it happen? Is this really possible that this could happen in a so called civilised society not that long ago? It gives you a lot of questions, like how could it be that so called Christian nations like Germany and Austria were able to initiate and prepare such terrible killing for a whole people group?

Paul: It must be very emotional for the survivors and for you taking them

Christa: It is and it's actually good if it's emotional because its not only a question of information, its good if we can weep there, if we can feel and experience the pain it brought to God and all the Jewish people and what we really did. If someone says I can't go there because I have to weep so much then I say you are the right person, go there and weep because this is something we have to weep over what happened 60 - 70 years ago.

Paul: What sort of stories do they have from the Holocaust?

Christa: I have a good friend from Tel Aviv, she survived Auschwitz and also the concentration camp in Ravensbruck and a death march with her little sister. They were so hungry that they almost died. They saw terrible things; they saw that a baby was smashed in the head by an SS man on a cement post. All these things come back if they dream. Your memory from your youth is much stronger as you get older so all these pictures come back and it's very hard to cope with it. Also there is an effect on the second and third generation on the children and the grand children. Often the children suffer as much as the parents who have been in the Holocaust because they don't meet a big part of their family. They see there is a whole area of the life of their parents they cannot share because it's so painful. Very often they stay quiet and don't want the children to really know what they have gone through because it's humiliating to talk about what they have experienced.

Paul: Do many Holocaust survivors not share anything of what they have gone through?

Christa: Many people say that only after 50 years or after a very long time they were able to start to talk about it and some of them didn't even allow their children to go to school on Holocaust Memorial Day so that the children would not know what happened to them. Lately many people do feel a responsibility to share what happened though, so that all human beings will know and so then be better able to prevent this from happening again. So now Holocaust survivors are willing to talk about what happened.

Ester (Holocaust survivor) and Christa walking around the camp
Ester (Holocaust survivor) and Christa walking around the camp

Paul: Have you heard of any other stories or atrocity that happened in the camps?

Christa: Many stories. It's so hard to even relate to it. They wanted to kill them with work, with all kinds of measures - they saw terrible things.

Paul: Have any of the people you take lost loved ones in the camps you visit?