The Holocaust, one of the most horrible events in recent history, has yet one
untold chapter--the pets owned by the Holocaust victims.
Today we understand the depth of the human/animal bond, but no one has told the stories about what the pets of Holocaust victims meant to them.
When researching this topic, survivors said that they were glad someone cared enough to ask about their pets. The fact that they needed to share their stories is testimony to how much their pets meant to them.
The account below is a dramatization of actual events as told to the author.
It was around 1939 when my father brought a small, furry puppy home. His eyes were like liquid chocolate and he would give us little kisses. All five of us, my parents, older brother, sister and me, loved to hold him and bury our face in his soft, shiny fur. Bogar, a 20 pound, all black mixed breed dog made us laugh and followed us everywhere. He was a constant source of joy, amusement and companionship to us. I felt very close to Bogar and told him all of my secrets.
Our family managed to survive the first five years of the war. But the war had affects on us all; even Bogar hated the sound of planes and shooting. Before we could hear it, Bogar would growl and raise the hair on his back when an airplane approached.
In June of 1944 we were marched to the Ghetto. We left Bogar free at home, hoping that he would survive, but he followed us to the Ghetto. Since dogs were not allowed in the Ghetto, we had no idea where he was or what happened to him. Even though we were afraid and uncertain about our own fate, we all worried about Bogar. Who would take care of him? How would he survive?
After three weeks we were herded out of the Ghetto and forced to walk to the train station in Hajduhadhaz. To our surprise, when we left the Ghetto, Bogar was right there beside us. He had waited outside of the Ghetto for us. I was thrilled to see that he was alive, but he followed us all the way to the train station where we had to leave him again. What would happen to our precious Bogar?
For an entire year, through all of our trials and tribulations, we wondered and prayed for Bogar. Then on one glorious day in May, 1945, we were free!!! We went back to our home and looked for Bogar, but he was no where to be found. Though we were glad to be alive, we mourned the loss of one family member, Bogar.
A month later, I was walking down the road about a mile from home when I saw a dog that looked like Bogar. My heart skipped a beat and I held my breath as I called his name. The dog stopped and looked, frozen in place. Then like a shooting star, he ran to me, jumping and licking my hands and face. It was Bogar, my sweet, wonderful Bogar!
The two of us ran home and I burst through the door shouting to the family, “Bogar’s home! Bogar’s Home!” We hugged and kissed him, then gave him some of our precious little food, water and a soft, warm place to sleep. After we got over our excitement we saw that Bogar had had a rough life while we were gone. He was thin, his coat did not shine and it seemed that there was a haunted look in his eyes.
We found out from people in our neighborhood that he had lived on the street, stealing food when he could. Bogar lived for a year or so and then at a little over seven years of age, got sick and died. We all mourned, but for one glorious year our family was complete and that meant a lot to us.
Note: If any reader knows about a Holocaust pet, please contact the author at put Holocaust in the subject line.
Sue is available for lectures and seminars on canine behavior, training, search and rescue, and writing. Contact her here.