Holocaust survivors visit the IAF

IDF (Zahal) Spokesperson

A group of Holocaust survivors visit the Hazirim air force base, telling their stories and getting to know the IDF (Zahal) a little better

Date: 02/05/2011, 4:10 PM     Author: Tamara Ben Natan

A group of Holocaust survivors the Israeli Air Force base of Hazirim this year, too, as part of the air force’s effort to support and salute them. Five women and two men, charmed and smiling, made their way through the entrance gate of the air force base.

“Who would have believed that all this is just one base,” said one of them, amazed, as they made their way through the bases’ roads, “where we were and where we are today. Where the Jews of the Holocaust were and where the Jewish nation is today.”

The group was invited for a tour of the Knights of the Orange Tail helicopter squadron and received explanations from an experienced pilot at the squadron. At the end of the tour, they watched a film of the IAF jets’ flight over Auschwitz commemorating the Holocaust, which took place in 2003. In seconds, the atmosphere in the room turned serious and deep. As they watched the takeoff of IAF aircrafts, flying over the railway tracks of Auschwitz, the tears began to stream.

“No one would believe then that one day we would have this,” said Yehuda, one of the group members. “It’s unfathomable, even years after it’s still impossible to grasp.”

From those who got off the minibus, it was hard not to see the special connection between two of the group members. Ahuva and Gershon Litmanovitz. The two descended, hugging, holding hands with a huge smile on their faces of those who’ve just fallen in love. The group of survivors, having been invited individually, did not know each other and decided to meet each other and their hosts on the base beforehand.

“Hi, I’m Ahuva Litmanovitz and I am a Holocaust survivor.”

Ahuva and Gershon are survivors of the Ghetto Lodz, spending most of the war between concentration and extermination camps, among them Auschwitz. The two met at the age of 15 in Italy, on one of the training days of the Jewish Brigade. They never parted since.

“At the age of 16 we, Ahuva and I, boarded a boat to Israel,” says Gershon. “We had a lot of luck. In that period it was decided that the Atilt port would allow as many as 1,500 in. On our boat carried 924 Jews, and to our luck the cap had not been reached,” he explains.

“Many of the Holocaust survivors still around in the 21st century are already at a phase in their life that leaving the house is complicated,” explains Limor from the Holocaust Survivors Welfare Fund.

“Survivors in their 60s and 70s are considered young. Maybe it’s hard to see it in them,” she says, looking with a smile back at the small group. “But these guys, who made a huge effort to come to the Hazirim base today, are incredibly excited.”

“I’ve been at the base three times, including today,” said Gershon as they were leaving, “My grandson completed his pilot’s course here and I was at two wing-pinning ceremonies [at the completion of the course]. It’s exciting each time to see a little more. It gives a huge sense of security and mostly strengthens the knowledge that there will be someone to protect us next time.”