On Sunday, Sept. 24, 11 a.m., at Schara Tzedeck Cemetery in New Westminster, the annual High Holidays Cemetery Service, presented by the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, Congregation Schara Tzedeck and the Jewish War Veterans, will mark the 30th anniversary of the Holocaust Memorial. On April 26, 1987, 1,300 numbers of the community, including Holocaust survivors and their families, attended the unveiling of the memorial, on which more than 900 names of family members who perished during the Holocaust were inscribed. Survivor Lillian Boraks-Nemetz wrote the following poem after that unveiling 30 years ago.
The Six Million
Written in dedication of the Holocaust Monument in Schara Tzedeck Cemetery
In this cemetery
far away from where They died
you stand dwarfed by this giant monument
your feet sinking lower and lower into the earth
your soul graining deeper and deeper
into the black granite.
You stand an alien to this earth
a born again human
sixty odd years away from the factories of death
of mercy – pleading voices scattered to deaf winds.
You stand in this cemetery
on the anniversary of the Holocaust
staring with hollow eyes
at simulated graves of strangers finally named
who once went to sleep in a common ditch
souls torn from peace like bones from flesh –
a child’s name upon your lips
a child’s fist pressing upon your breath
to break the granite silence
to speak to shout to scream the truth
to silence forever the mad dogs who
deny the happening of Shoah.
You remember as you stand here
waiting your turn to honour the Dead
how you stood with Them then
in line for death only you didn’t die
running away on all fours
through the contaminated sewers like a rat.
You say Kaddish and for a single moment
become one with the living and the dead.
Then you, the survivor, slip away into an alien world
where your soul must learn to sustain alone,
The Six Million.