Miriam Goldstein, an old woman now, goes to the cemetery every Mother’s Day. But her mother’s body isn’t there.
As best she can tell from her research, her mother’s body was incinerated in 1944 at Auschwitz. Miriam has missed her terribly all these years and so much more on Mother’s Day, even though, by now, natural causes would have put her mother in her grave, if she had been given the chance to have a proper grave.
But a man named Dietrich Schmidt did have a proper grave. His family gave him one when he died in 1960. On the granite stone marking his final resting place, the inscription reads, “Gone Too Soon But Not Forgotten.”
“I will never forget,” Miriam said as she stood before Schmidt’s grave, retrieving from her pocket a newspaper article from 1960, which she had laminated years ago so she would always have it. “I haven’t forgotten,” she whispered.
That 1960 newspaper article reported the death of Schmidt, whom the article said was believed by people in his neighborhood to have been a guard at a concentration camp before he came to the United States. The article said that he died when he was struck by a subway train on a quiet Sunday morning. No foul play was suspected.
Standing in front of Schmidt’s grave, Miriam focused on the granite stone and said, “I never knew you, but I know what you and your compatriots did to my mother and my people. I remember that quiet Sunday morning in 1960 when I followed you to the subway platform. A bump, a nudge was all it took. No foul play, my ass.”