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Letter from Lucy!

Last month I celebrated my eightieth birthday. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to live so long. I survived four years in Vienna under Nazi rule, and three years, spending those years mostly in displaced person’s camps in Europe and Cyprus, finally coming to Israel. I had hoped to live out the rest of my life in relative peace. It was not to be. When I was liberated in Germany I never thought of revenge, I didn’t hate anybody, all I wanted was to start a new life in my own country. It never entered my mind to go amongst Germans and blow them up or revenge myself in any other way, I only wanted to get away from them and start a new life.

I have been here now for fifty eight years and have lived through another few wars, but in spite of everything we have build a beautiful, vibrant country. Israel has been a state for all these years and still a great part of the world debates whether to recognize us or not. No other country’s right to exist is ever questioned, why us?

I know there are many reasons that I could name, but hatred is the driving force. Anti-Semitism is stronger than ever, even if is called by another name like Anti-Zionism. Out history has been so twisted out of shape, that people have forgotten that the Jews in the British occupied Palestine were called Palestinians. When I was a child in Vienna, people used to shout at us “Jews to Palestine.” Now that I have lived the greater part of my life here, it seems I still have no right to my own country. Where can I go? There is no other place for me, I certainly can’t go back to Vienna, which is a huge cemetery for me, almost everybody I knew there was murdered.

I am very sad these days, it seems as there will be never peace for us. I am not worried about myself, I find it even comforting that I am at the end of my life, but I am thinking of my children and grandchildren and the kind of future they are facing. I wish I had an answer.

Lucy Mandelstam, July 2006.

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