This weekend marks the anniversary of Kristallnacht, or "the night of broken glass," when Nazi soldiers destroyed Jewish temples at the start of the Holocaust. Sunday, those who were in concentration camps and those who liberated them will meet at "Emek Sholom," Richmond's own Holocaust Memorial Cemetery.
It is one of the first Holocaust memorials in all of North America. Despite the geographic and historical distance from the tragedy, one might be surprised to learn of the many connections right here in Richmond.
There are certain ironies in life almost too bizarre to explain. For David Robinson and Ben Kutner, they come to a head in Emek Sholom or the "valley of peace." This weekend, the two will honor their parents, who unknowingly shared a sacred bond--one of savior and saved.
"Part of the history are the liberators, the warriors who brought that war to and end," explained Inge Horowitz, who sought refuge in the U.S. "We'd have no survivors if it weren't for them."
That includes survivors like Ben's mother, Esther.
"She spent her entire teenage life in concentration camps, which is unimaginable," Kutner said.
Against all odds, she made it to a displaced persons camp, where David's father worked after liberating Buchenwald.
"What they did there was to save as many people as possible, the living dead," David recalled.
The two never met there, but in an odd twist of fate, both moved to Richmond and settled about two miles apart. Just six months before Bruce's death, they were introduced and became fast friends.
"Every night the last few days of his life she walked to Retreat Hospital and she looked down at him and he looked up at her and they didn't say anything but just the tears flowed because they shared a very important moment in time," Robinson added.
It is a moment in time that continues to bring strangers together for a common goal.
"I think it's important that we do this and that everyone else remember this because it could happen again," Kutner maintained.
The ceremony at Emek Sholom is in Forest Lawn Cemetery near RIR. It is scheduled to start at 2 o'clock and should go about an hour.
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