Young Marione Ingram holding her mother’s hands before the bombings began
Yesterday I interviewed Holocaust survivor Marione Ingram. In my time I have met more than my share of Holocaust survivors, read books, including Marione’s own new account of her life in Nazi Germany, The Hands of War, A Tale of Endurance and Hope, from a Survivor of the Holocaust, a book, which by the way, that I highly recommend.
I loved her book. Yes, the story that she tells is truly horrific, aren’t all survivor stories so? Yet this story touched me more deeply than most. I finished the book last week, but Marione’s story continued to haunt me.
Thanks to Comcast, a truly awful company, our internet service went down just prior to airtime. So that when I was finally able to begin the interview, I hadn’t had a chance to conduct a preliminary conversation with Mrs. Ingram to get a “feel” for my subject.
FYI: Just a few minutes of idle chit-chat is enough for this interviewer to gain an understanding of her interviewee. Without that, as you can tell when you listen to the beginning of my interview with Marione Ingram, timing is off. By the way, we all do that when we engage in conversation: establish a rhythm with one another. When we can’t find it that’s when we tend to say that a person is not our cup of tea, but I digress.
The interview began. Marione and I quickly established our rhythm; we knew instinctively that we were like-minded souls. Marione began the interview speaking to my audience but a few minutes into the hour she was speaking to me, and I to her. If you listen you will be privy to our private conversation.
Marione asked to read from her book. She did and I listened with rapt attention. Speaking with her still prominent German accent, her own voice, made the lyric of her work that much more meaningful.
My heart began doing strange things. By the end of the interview I will admit to you that I could barely speak. There were tears glistening in my eyes, in truth they bubble up even as I write. Yes, I was horrified by Marione’s telling of the unspeakable things that happened to her, the horrors inflicted by the Nazi regime, not to mention her fellow Germans, when she was a mere child. The atrocities are difficult to fathom for those of us of healthy minds. Of course I was shaken to the core by her story.
Hours after the interview had ended I found myself still shaken, my emotions as raw as they had been earlier. I thought to myself that I must be missing something. I was so disturbed that I couldn’t fall asleep. I sat up in bed, and I thought. And then finding no relief I turned on the TV and what was I met with? On PBS a show Seeds of Resiliency that chronicled the journey of 12 people who have overcome physical or emotional hardships. There, on my TV screen were three more Holocaust survivors! They were riveting. Oh, I thought to myself, what a day. What is going on? Even this week’s The Halli Casser-Jayne Show fit into the theme of the day. The subject: Israel.
And then, finally, I grabbed the seed of awareness that had been generating within my psyche. I smiled as I thought to myself: Evil lost, Hitler lost! Goodness won! Not because the allies won the war and beat Hitler and his cronies. That was merely an ending to something that should never have begun. No, what I realized then was something far more profound. For it was then that I realized that I had met with the mysterious ways that are Gd’s, the Gd that chose — hand-picked — Marione Ingram and the other survivors of the evil onslaught as his earth angels.
What is an angel? Is an angel not someone who has seen the worst and seeks only to make things better? Is an angel not someone who deplores hate in all its form and worships only love? Surely an angel is someone who in the face of evil will not remain silent, or cower to the enemy. An angel is Marione Ingram who despite being the recipient of the very worst that is in mankind, can bare her soul in a guileless manner because the evil-mongers might strip a nine year old girl of everything, but an angel clings to dignity. What is left? Only the the purest of heart…and isn’t that by its very definition an angel?
Marione Ingram, a gift from Gd.
Marione’s Interview can be found on the player on this page. Simply press on the interview.
Listen to the related show: NY TIMES BEST SELLING AUTHOR JENNA BLUM | THOSE WHO SAVE US