365 days of celebration


International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Posted by Brittany
My great-grandparents

My great-grandparents, Jacob & Jozefa Rechen perished during WWII. This is the only known photograph of them.

On January 27, 1945 the Soviet Army liberated the remaining prisoners at Auschwitz and over 7,000 people, many sick and dying, were freed.  As the largest of the Nazi camps, an estimated 1.3 million prisoners had been sent to Auschwitz, and about 1.1 million systematically murdered.  By the end of the Holocaust over 6 million jews and millions of other persecuted people had perished at the hands of the Nazi regime.  Sixty years later, in 2005, the United Nations General Assembly  designated January 27th as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day to remember the victims of the violence of the Holocaust and to promote educational programs aimed toward preventing the horrors of genocide.

My late paternal grandmother, Maria “Ronnie” Rechen Lipinski, was a survivor of the Holocaust.  Ronnie told my father, her only child, very little about her experiences in World War II, and even less to me and my brother.  We can only surmise that the memories remained too painful, and that she viewed her emigration to the United States as the start of a new life.  From what history we do know, we gather that she was born in Lvov, Poland, the only child of Jacob and Jozefa Rechen, a well-to-do Jewish couple.  Jacob played some sort of role in the media — something to do with newspaper or movies — and due to this was probably among the first handful of men to “disappear” after the Nazis took control in Poland.  Jozefa died in a Jewish ghetto in 1942 and Ronnie was able to hide for some time and obtain false papers with the help of Jozek Parobek and family.  In 1943 she worked at a forced labor camp in Germany as a displaced person.  After the end of the war she met and married my grandfather, James Lipinski,  a Chief Warrant Officer in the Army’s 16th Infantry Regiment who had fought in Africa and Europe, including on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.  After moving to the United States she embraced life as an Army wife and gave birth to my father in 1948.

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