Remembering the millions lost in the Holocaust
NASHUA – Wednesday marked Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, and many around the world remembered the millions of Jews who lost their lives in the Holocaust with different events and
Nashua was no exception, and in collaboration, Temple Beth Abraham and Rivier University hosted their own annual observance, where Margot Schrader, daughter of a Holocaust survivor, gave a presentation titled, “Survivor Spirit: The Schrader Family Story.”
President of Rivier University Sister Paula Marie Buley said, “This evening we remember so our children and generations to come will never forget. We mourn the sins of the past, knowing these shameful crimes are a stain on humanity itself,” adding that, “This active remembrance is most powerfully represented this evening by Margot Schrader, who’s father’s life was marked by suffering as a young child.”
With that, the pews were packed, with many in
attendance, and the program began with two songs performed by the Nashua Community Interfaith Choir before Schrader took to the podium for an emotionally charged presentation, highlighting the details of her father’s past that she’s discovered so far.
“In 2009, my father called me in tears. He found a PDF about his mother on the internet,” Schrader said.
After that phone call, she did a little research after her father sent her the link to the PDF. They came up with what they figured to be a gravestone, but they both weren’t really sure.
Schrader began researching her father, Bodo Schrader, and her family’s history in February 2016, and her presentation covered her family’s history and her father’s experiences that she’s been able to uncover. With some help from the Jewish Federation of New Hampshire, Schrader was able to uncover documents that corroborate some of Bodo’s early memories as a child.
The PDF lead was left cold for a number of years, until 2016 when a friend of hers, who had a professor that taught German, translated the document, and what she received regarded her grandmother, who Margot is named after.
“I decided to do an image search of what I thought was the gravestone, and I discovered something beyond anything I ever thought,” Margot said, adding that, “What I found out was that this was a larger part of a permanent art installation.”
That art installation was done by an artist who installed plaques with the last address of choice to remember those who were taken from their homes with no belongings.
“The artist placed these plaques to bring life to the memory of those who once lived there,” Schrader said.
She then decided to reach out to the man honoring these people she felt such a connection to, so she posted a message on that website. Then, eight days into her research, she was connected to three cousins, four grand-cousins and an uncle. Schrader grew up with a small family, just her mother and father, but she now knew of other relatives out there.
Bodo, a New Hampshire Holocaust survivor, was born in Magdeburg, Germany, on November 11, 1941, and when he was hardly a year old, he and his three siblings were taken from their parents. At 4 yearsold, and unaccompanied, Bodo was taken by the Nazis to the Theresienstadt concentration camp.
“We’re talking about a 4 year old who lost his mother, father, three siblings and caretakers from orphanages, survived a bombed orphanage, went to the Harz Mountains, to Berlin and then to the Czech Republic,” Schrader said.
In just four years, Bodo had experienced unthinkable traumatic events, and whether he remembers all of them or not, they remain stored in his body making up the man he is today.
She said her father’s memory is spotty and unorganized, and that he has no memories before the age of 8.
Bodo went to Munich, Germany, and in 1949, immigrated to the United States, where he then spent time at the Chicago Children’s Home. From there, a local Jewish family adopted him.
“There’s no reason my father should have any ability to express emotion, to love or to care, but he does. Children who live through trauma without intervention rarely become functional human beings,” Schrader said.
However, defying the odds, her father later attended Springfield College, before moving back to Chicago, where he was heavily involved in politics. Schrader said he’s always been passionate about helping people.
“Today, he’s a friend to most of those who meet him,” she said. “He can be silly, serious and scary,” as she pointed to a photo of him on the screen where he was drinking from a cup of coffee with an interesting expression on his face. “He’s an amazing man and personifies the survivors spirit.”
Following her presentation, Bodo joined his daughter at the podium and offered time for a question and answer session. Then, there was a candle-lighting ceremony memorializing the millions of Holocaust victims.
Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.