Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"It Was Either Your Turn or It Wasn't. It Wasn't My Turn."

Canadian Holocaust survivor and figure skating coach Ellen Burka talks about her past.

"Burka was raised in an upper-class home in Amsterdam with Victorian parents who met in England. She spoke German and English at home, and learned Dutch and French at school. (She said she also understands Flemish and Afrikaans.)"

"They had relatives in England, and they had a house in the south of France, not far from the Spanish border. As war loomed, Burka’s mother pleaded with her father to flee for safety. But, with ties to several businesses, he decided the family would stay in Holland."

One night, in the spring of 1943, two German officers arrived to take her grandmother...A week later... they came for the rest of the family; sending them Westerbork, a concentration camp near the German border, in the northeastern corner of Holland."

"One day, as she was digging in a field, someone told Burka her parents had been loaded into a train. She was told she had five minutes to wave goodbye, from a distance."

I saw my parents standing in the cattle car,” Burka said.

I waved to them. My mother went inside. My father stayed there. And then I left. I went back and dug peat moss.”

"It was the last time Burka saw her parents."

“You lived with it,” she said.

It was either your turn or not. It wasn’t my turn.”