“The paintings allow me to tell my grandfather’s story through his eyes”
Major Assaf, as a pilot cadet, with his grandfather
When the memorial siren goes off, the entire country will stand still. We will all pay respect to the six million Jews who died during World War II. Each of us has a different perspective on this day, a more personal view. As years have gone by, only a small number of survivors are still alive and various personal testimonies, memories and stories are never to be heard again. Thankfully, there are people who make sure that their essence will never vanish.
Major Assaf, an Aerial crew member in the “Knights of the North”, has a special bond with his grandfather, Shlomo. “When I was a child, my grandparents lived next door”, he remembers. “I used to go to their house after school. Some might say I grew up there. Throughout the years, we got very close and I had the opportunity to hear my grandfather talk about that awful time. When I was a teenager, I was very intrigued by the Holocaust and I started tagging along to his lecture”. Shlomo was born in Poland and grew up in Lodz. At 14 years of age, World War II started and turned his life around. After losing his entire family, he came to Israel with his good friends Itzhak Pick, and they both started their own families.
The Story Lives On
After being recruited, Assaf brought his grandfather to meet with various units of the IDF. Shlomo’s lectures accompanied Assaf from the beginning of his Pilot Training Course until his first Operational flight. “My grandfather was very proud of me when it came to my military service”, Assaf smiles. “For him, every moment was emotional. Since the day I was at the recruiting center until my graduation. One of the few times where I saw my grandfather cry was when I gave him a photo of me in my military uniform standing in Poland during a flight instructor’s course. It gave him closure”.
Shlomo passed away three years ago, lives on and has been passed on to countless people. “I decided to give lectures in order to continue his legacy”, says Assaf, “With the help of his vivid descriptions, I can do it through his eyes. As a member of the IAF, an officer and a pilot, I’m very proud to give these lectures. I am very proud and honored to be a part of a strong strategic force that will make sure something like this will never let it happen again”.
The Feeling that Anything Could change in a Moment
Major (Res.) Noam from the “First Squadron” shared the story of his Grandfather, who was able to come to Israel before the gates were closed before European Jews, and reunited with his father and brother while other family members stayed in Germany and weren’t able to flee. “Since we were a small family, we were very close”, he shares. “We weren’t educated on the topic of the Holocaust, but it always echoed in the background.
Nothing was ever certain, anything could change in a brief moment–that feeling was with me my entire life”. Noam’s grandfather, just like Assaf’s, was present during his military duty and saw it as a huge honor. “When I graduated the Pilot Training Course, my grandparents were very emotional”, says Noam with a smile. “My family is very Zioniicst and at home it meant a lot to serve the country and contribute to the existence of the Israeli State”.