I was so saddened to hear your comments.
Saddened, because I was about your age in 1945 when I was liberated from that pit of hell they called Bergen Belsen.
I had lost everything that I had ever had. I had lost almost everyone that I had ever loved..
I, like millions of others, had fallen victim to the vicious propaganda machine the Nazis relied on to advance their evil agenda.
Today they call propaganda “fake news" but it is the same thing.
And it is no less virulent or dangerous.
Simone, the link you saw was fake news.
It was a lie.
I know this because I lived the truth and I have carried it with me, in my heart, for more than 7 decades.
You see Simone, you can never forget what I saw, what I endured and what I survived.
I am sad because like me, you too were a victim of lies that seek to breed hatred and disgust .Lies that seek to divide us and make us fearful of one another.
And I am also angry. Not at you, but at those who still seek to make others the victims of their own fear.
Simone, I am 98 years old. And if I have learnt one thing, it is that to live as a victim of fear, is to live in pain.
I do not wish this on you anymore than I wish it on myself.
I would love to meet with you when circumstances permit.
Maybe I will tell you my story, and you will tell me yours.
I know we will learn that far more unites us, than divides us.
And maybe together, Simone, we will find a way to shine light into our fractured world.
I send you my love,
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) is the recognised spokesbody and civil rights lobby of the South African Jewish community. Its core mandate is to combat antisemitism in all its forms while also ensuring that the community’s right to fairness and equality in terms of its religious and cultural practices is upheld.
Like Olga Kirsch, Jennifer Friedman grew up in the Orange Free State and wrote poetry in the Afrikaans language she grew up in. Brian Josselowitz tells her story.