WASHINGTON (CBSDC) - With the number of Holocaust survivors rapidly dwindling in the United States, there’s a growing movement of youths memorializing their parents’ and grandparents’ tortured days with permanent ink.
The New York Times released a photo gallery of a number of grandchildren of the Holocaust posing with their elders with matching tattoos on their arms. By having the same tattoos inked on their arms as those given to their grandparents by Nazi soldiers in Auschwitz, these youths believe they are honoring their family’s legacy and reminding a generation that’s increasingly unfamiliar with the history of the Holocaust.
“All my generation knows nothing about the Holocaust,” Eli Sagir, 21, told the Times. “You talk with people and they think it’s like the Exodus from Egypt, ancient history. I decided to do it to remind my generation: I want to tell them my grandfather’s story and the Holocaust story.”
During the Holocaust, all prisoners designated for work were given serial number tattoos at the Auschwitz concentration camp, either on their forearms or their chests, if they were an earlier arrival. Those not cleared for work were not given serial numbers, and were sent immediately to the gas chamber.
Survivors marked with numbers between 30,000 and 80,000 are viewed with ultimate respect, because it means they were one of the first prisoners of Auschwitz and had to outlast multiple harshly cold winters of abuse.
The number of survivors in the United States has declined to around 200,000 from twice that ten years ago, according to the report, and as a result descendants feel a renewed sense of urgency to remind the population of the horrors of the Holocaust.
Sagir had the number 157622 stitched into her arm while she was still in high school after an eye-opening field trip to Poland. Since then her mother, brother and uncle have gotten the same followed suit, nearly 70 years after Yosef Diamant received his badge of strength and endurance.
A documentary is set to premiere in the U.S. this month with a filmmaker who sits down with these tattooed survivors – nearly 50 of them. Dana Doron, 31, premieres “Numbered” at the Chicago International Film Festival around the middle of the month. She is the daughter of a survivor herself and would like to issue that same reminder to this generation – the Holocaust was real and it’s important to remember its history.
The New York Times cataloged multiple of those survivors in a recent gallery with their tattoo-honoring grandchildren which you can view here.