She’s now forgotten by everyone, her name hardly showing a thing when you write it down and press search on Google, but I like to think that no one is truly forgotten. Aranka von Wertheimstein was a quiet woman, a sister and a daughter, maybe a lover, too, but now History has almost forgotten her. Reading through The Baroness by Hannah Rothschild I come across Aranka’s name. There’s even a picture of her and her sisters on page 131. I read on and I find out that poor Aranka died at Auschwitz, that most horrifying of places. She spent some time in a ghetto along with other Jewish people where they were kept under awful conditions. At least she wasn’t alone. Nevertheless, they all went through hell. Later on she and other Jewish people were put in one wagon, squashed like sardines in a can, and sent to Hell. By then Aranka was old. Old and fragile. Imagine what a journey like that did to her, especially when there was no food or water available?
Along the way to Hell some people lost their minds. Others died. When you think about it, maybe death was more welcome than Hell itself. As for Aranka, she lasted the whole journey, but when the train stopped at the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, she was pulled out of the wagon by an SS guard and then she was beaten to death by more guards.
What did they felt while they were beating a poor, innocent, weak woman to death? Maybe they felt nothing at all.
Now the world is slowly forgetting everything, including the memory of Aranka, but I’m not and this is why I’m writing about her.
Aranka was a quiet woman and I would have like to know her.
“You fill up your desk with notes while reading a book,” Eliza says.
I’ve got two books on the go, three if you count the Torah. The books are The Baroness by Hannah Rothschild and Kaddish by Leon Wieseltier. And the Torah. Going through each book I find names and events that I then write down in a notebook or some post-it notes, and later on I will do some research about those names and events, and maybe I will find something more to write about or maybe I won’t find much at all.
“What for?” she asks.
So I know a bit more about these people and about the History of our world. We only pay attention to the “big names” and we forget about the “little people” in between; those who perished and are no longer remembered. I’d like to think that no one is truly forgotten. I don’t tell this to Eliza though. I simply shrug my shoulders and smile, adding, “So I won’t forget.”
“What others forgot.”