That day I was a youngster growing up in Alexandria, Va., a few miles from our nation’s capital. My father, a U.S. Army major, was stationed at Fort Belvoir on the Potomac River, and our family spent almost every Sunday at Mackenzie Hall, the fort’s Officers Club, enjoying the superb food, shooting billiards or swimming.
While we ate and played, other Jewish children of my generation were trapped in Nazi-occupied Europe. Their terrifying existence included brutal arrests, transports to German death camps in filthy crowded railroad boxcars, grisly medical experiments, wretched ghettos, widespread disease. For many of these young Jews, deliverance would only come with death by poison gas, starvation or bullets. It is estimated 1.5 million Jewish children were killed during the Holocaust.
I am forever haunted by the knowledge that had I been born during the 1930s in Transylvania instead of Pennsylvania, I would have been one of the 6 million Jews murdered during the Holocaust.