Every year, soldiers and officers of the Air Force participate in the “Flower to Survivor” Project. They meet with Holocaust survivors, listen to their stories, ask questions and give certificates of appreciation and flowers
The hallways of the municipal nursing home of Ramat Gan city received a somewhat different bunch. Soldiers of the Air Force Band along with soldiers of the corps came in uniform to take part in the event.
This marks the seventh year of the initiative in conjunction with the Holocaust Survivors Fund of Israel, the claims committee of the ministry of defense and the Ghetto Fighters Museum.
Through the project, soldiers and commanders meet with Holocaust Survivors, listen to their personal stories and give them certificates and flowers for their contributions to the building of the State of Israel. Beforehand, residents of the nursing home enjoyed the music of the Air Force Band.
“So many years have passed since the Holocaust, but it is impossible to forget”, said Fruma Dimant to the soldiers and officers. “It is hard for me to believe that I have passed the age of 90 and that I once weighed 35 kilos”. The soldiers asked Fruma if she remembered how it all began.
“I was 16 or 17”, recalls Fruma. “We lived in Poland and one day the Germans came to take us, they put us all on trucks and we didn’t know where. I remember the screams”.
Fruma was taken for agricultural work. Her parents and sisters, who refused to part with their children, she never saw again. “We knew that no one comes back from there”.
After she was transferred to other work camps, she arrived at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany. From there she was saved when the British liberated the camp in 1945.
“I was half dead, sick with Typhus and didn’t eat the food that was given out. The people that ate too much died, they couldn’t digest the food. Only when they restricted the food did I begin to eat”.
She met her brother at the end of the war. He returned to Poland and she decided to stay in Germany and start a family.
“My husband and I met at a rehabilitation camp. Before then, we didn’t believe that we would ever be able to get pregnant so everyone ran to get married and have children”.
At the end of 1948, with the establishment of the State of Israel, Fruma came to Israel.
“I remember how we cried and danced when the State was established and when I saw for the first time the march of the army. On the one hand, I was happy that I got to see it and on the other hand it hurt me that my family did not”.
Fruma made sure to tell the soldiers around her about the difficult times. “That’s why these certificates are important to me, I will show them to my grandchildren”, she said with a smile to Second Lieutenant Hadar as she was given the certificate.
“I have heard many stories, but a person telling you face to face is exciting”, remarked Second Lieutenant Hadar. “I think every soldier in the IDF should take this opportunity and come in uniform, to present himself and to take interest. It is a good thing to do for the survivors, and the effect of the uniform is great”, she says. “When we signed up for the project I told my soldiers that for me, this is our duty, that we must be there. This is the first year I participated and of course I would love to do it next year”.
This was also the first time for Cpl Amber, to come as a soldier and talk to Holocaust survivors.
“It is stronger than all the descriptions”, she emphasizes. “My grandmother was a Holocaust survivor. The conversation with Fruma made me think about the fact that I never heard her personal story. Now I’m going to ask my dad about it and know more”.