b'WESTERN MARBLE ARCH SYNAGOGUEmemorial for the villages Jewish families. It was built by a Polish gentile, a librarian, over 10 years as his lifes achievement. Although there are probably no Jews in Chmielnik today, some of the funding for the project came from the local population. When we asked him about the motivation for this moving tribute, he explained that it was Chmielniks way of repaying the debt of gratitude it owed to its 80% pre-war Jewish population. During the 19th Century, the town had suffered two great fires and, on both occasions, the local gentile population had been tempted to resettle elsewhere. It was the Jewish population, on both occasions, that decided to remain and rebuild the town.It was my second visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau. During the heavily emotional tour of the site, I was struck by one thought: the more we try to comprehend the reality of the Holocaust, the more we sense the chasm that separates us from Survivors. There is simply no way for us to relate to their experience or the sense of loss or guilt they felt upon their liberation. Throughout their life, both my father and Bronia displayed indomitable fortitude in the face of adversity but always treated others with unfailing humanity. They glowed with an inner light that probably came from having been denied their humanity in the camp and found the strength to preserve it. My father was never keen to speak about his experience in the camp. I did, however, find out some details from some of the other inmates with whom he had stayed in touch after the war. Moshe Skorecki (zl), who emigrated to the US after the war, remained a friend and a client of my fathers for many years. He told me how, in the camp, on several occasions, when someone was too sick to work, my father, who worked there as a mechanic, would sabotage their machine to give them enough downtime to recover. Had he been caught, he would have faced an almost certain and immediate death sentence.My father and Bronia were liberated by the Red Army in early 1945. A few months later, he was drafted into the Polish army and assigned to a team tasked with reuniting families that had been scattered by the war. One day, a colleague spotted a letter from a Topiol in Paris looking for his relatives in Stopnica. It was from his elder brother Meilech Topiol (zl). He had survived the war in France where he had been living since the early 1930s. In early 1946, my father and Bronia left Poland on one of the last trains to cross what would soon become the Iron Curtain to be reunited with Meilech in Paris where they settled.Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks expressed it best when he said about Holocaust Survivors: Upon their liberation, they immediately set out to rebuild their lives. Only years later did they turn back to reminisce about the Holocaust in order to rekindle the memory of those who had perished. This account contains two profound lessons of humanity taught to us by Survivors: the courage to rebuild a life in the midst of unfathomable loss and an overwhelming sense of duty regarding the memory of the other victims.Survivors should not be remembered only as victims for the sufferings they endured at the hands of the Nazis but, in many cases, also as inspiring heroes for how their humanity ultimately prevailed.40'