The Power of Gold


Lately, whenever I turn on the television or radio, or read the newspaper, the "latest news" about the Jewish gold transferred to or hoarded by the Swiss banks catches my eye. Important people like Senator Al D'Amato and Edgar Bronfman have spent a great deal of time on this issue. It seems justice will soon prevail. The Swiss finally admit that they "owe" the survivors and their families gold and money. Who knows? The survivors may even live long enough to get what is coming to them.

Different thoughts enter my mind. I am a survivor of the Holocaust. Even though more than 50 years have passed since my miraculous survival, and even though I try to pretend that I have healed, it is not so. I often wonder, how could people inflict so much cruelty upon others? How could people act so indifferently, standing by idly while others were crushed? And how did the media "report" the fact that so many were killed, tortured, and robbed on a daily basis? Many of my friends who were not victims of the Holocaust assure me that they did not know of the events surrounding that period. Yet at the same time, we know that important people who could have made a difference -- such as Rabbi Steven Wise and the U.S. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter -- did know of the mass murders.

Where was the media when it came to reporting that news? Maybe reporting that news could have saved some lives.

Now, as I am bombarded with news of the Swiss gold, I think of my own personal experiences. My late father, who went to a concentration camp as a relatively young man in his forties, was always proud of his beautiful teeth.

When he miraculously returned two years later, following the liberation, we noticed he had artificial teeth. Finally, our mother asked him about his teeth. He told us that one of the Kapos had noticed that he had some gold crowns in the back of his mouth, and so the guard struck his face so long that he spat out most of his teeth, including the crowns. He also told us many other horror stories.

As an adult, I have always liked, and still do like objects made of gold. I have purchased some here in the United States and others while traveling in Europe. I have never thought about the origin of these objects; they were simply jewelry. Now I know, from reading of the Swiss gold, that Jewish gold -- including my poor father's crowns -- found its way to different places. I do not believe I will buy gold again.