It was 69 tears ago today on what we now know as Auschwitz Liberation Day, Holocaust Memorial Day and Holocaust Remembrance Day, when Soviet Troops liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau in occupied Poland.
Here, borrowed from Yad Vashem, is one family’s perspective from Chanukah 1932.
Artifacts in the Holocaust History Museum
Chanukah Menorah from the Home of Rabbi Akiva & Rachel Posner in Kiel, Germany
On Chanukah 1932, just prior to the elections that would bring Hitler to power, Rachel Posner, wife of Rabbi Dr. Akiva Posner, took this photo of the family Chanukah menorah from the window ledge of the family home looking out on to the building across the road decorated with Nazi flags.
On the back of the photograph, Rachel Posner wrote in German (translated here):
“Death to Judah”
So the flag says
“Judah will live forever”
So the light answers
Rabbi Dr. Akiva Posner, Doctor of Philosophy from Halle-Wittenberg University, served from 1924–1933 as the last Rabbi of the community of Kiel, Germany.
After Rabbi Posner publicized a protest letter in the local press expressing indignation at the posters that had appeared in the city: “Entrance to Jews Forbidden”, he was summoned by the chairman of the local branch of the Nazi party to participate in a public debate. The event took place under heavy police guard and was reported by the local press.
When the tension and violence in the city intensified, the Rabbi responded to the pleas of his community to flee with his wife Rachel and their three children and make their way to Eretz Israel. Before their departure, Rabbi Posner was able to convince many of his congregants to leave as well and indeed most managed to leave for Eretz Israel or the United States. The Posner family left Germany in 1933 and arrived in Eretz Israel in 1934.
Some eighty years later, Akiva and Rachel Posner’s descendants continue to light Chanukah candles using the same menorah that was brought to Israel from Kiel. On Chanukah 5770 (2009), their great-grandson, Akiva Mansbach, dressed in the uniform of the Israel Defence Forces saluted and read out a poem written in Hebrew in a similar vein to that written by Rachel Posner in 1932.
Translated it reads:
“ In 5692 the Menorah is in exile, it stands in the window
It challenges the party flag that doesn’t yet rule
“Judah die!” it says
And Grandma ‘s rhyme responds
In its own tongue, without despair:
So the flag says, but our candle answers and declares
“Judah will live forever”
In 5770 the menorah stands in the window once again
Facing the flag of the ruling State
The descendant Akiva, named for his great-grandfather
Salutes through the window and lights the menorah
Grandmother, give thanks above and say a prayer
That “the Redeemer will come to Zion” and not delay.
(Loaned by the Posner Family Estate, courtesy of Shulamit Mansbach, Haifa, Israel
Photographer: Rachel Posner)