During the Fort Detrick Days of Remembrance event, Soldiers from the 6th Medical Logistics Management Center performed a demonstration called “Tears of the Falling Rice.” Colored rice was poured into a bowl, each grain representing 100 people, to give visual representation to the non-Jewish Polish civilians, people with disabilities, gypsies, homosexuals, Ukrainian Slavs, Soviet prisoners of war and U.S. military personnel killed in the war, and the 6 million Jewish people killed in the “Final Solution.” Photo by Nick Minecci, USAG Public Affairs
Commanders, Soldiers, civilians, family members and elected officials participated in a remembrance ceremony, along with Dr. Harvey Levy, who served as the guest speaker. Levy is the son of survivors of the concentration camps in Germany during World War II.
“‘I am 16! I am 16! Don’t kill me!’ This is what 13?year?old Lili Koniecpolska from Katowicz, Poland, had to declare to the Nazis in order to survive upon arrival at each forced labor or concentration camp in Germany. I am Lili’s son. As a young boy in Brooklyn, New York, in the early 1950s, this is what I used to hear coming out of her bedroom in the middle of the night,” said Levy as he began his talk.
Levy told how his mother was herded, along with the rest of the little town’s population, into the town square when the Nazis arrived in 1941, with the promise of food vouchers and work for all. Everyone over the age of 16 was put on trucks or trains and sent to the camps. Those under 16 were killed. For the next 3 ½ years, young Lili was moved from camp to camp, of her four siblings she never saw three of them again. Finally, in May 1945, Lili was liberated.
“Liberation day was the worst day of the war for one-third of the people at the camp,” Levy said. “The Russians liberated the camp, the Nazis had fled and abandoned everything. The Russians opened the gates and told all the prisoners that they were free, and they could have anything they wanted from the now abandoned stores [in town.] Many of the starved people ate meat, cheese and other foods. The next day a third of them got very sick and died. Their emaciated shrunken digestive systems could not handle the food they ate. They died because no one warned them to go slow, just eat a little now and a little more each day. Lili only wanted a hairbrush, a little piece of cheese and to search for her family,” Levy said.
During her confinement Lili met a 20 year old man named Laizer Lewi, and following the liberation and a courtship, on Feb. 3, 1946, they were married. The couple made their way to the United States, had two sons, one a doctor, the other a lawyer.
“Our family will always be grateful and indebted to the countries who fought against the Nazis, and especially to the U.S., who welcomed my parents and me,” said Levy.
During the observance, Soldiers poured colored rice into a bowl to represent the different groups persecuted by the Nazis, with each grain of rice representing 100 people. Then seven candles were lit to remember 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, as well as the millions of non-Jewish victims.
Each candle was dedicated to a different group of witnesses to the Holocaust, including the children and those who tried to inform the world of what was happening. Finally one yellow candle was lit, dedicated to the next generation, as a reminder to carry the flames of remembrance.
The United States Congress established the Days of Remembrance as the Nation's annual commemoration of the Holocaust. Each year, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum leads the Nation in commemorating the Days of Remembrance.