last week nicolaus and i managed to navigate about australia's public transportation system with only one missed bus stop/back-tracking occurrence...only to find that sydney's jewish museum closed an hour earlier than usual during the holidays.  i was pretty bummed about it, so when we had a little time to spare this morning i was excited for another chance to try again.  and this time proved much luckier!

not only did we go when they were actually open, we went when a volunteer guide who survived 3 different concentration camps during the holocaust was giving a tour of the holocaust exhibit.  we only had about an hour to spend at the museum and it was nearly all spent listening to this survivor, eddie, and his incredible stories.  eddie was 94 years old, but didn't seem a day over 80.  he was spritely and witty and intelligent.

he shared quite a few heart-wrenching stories and here are the two that stuck out to me the most:

1. when he was taken to his first concentration camp in germany he was stripped down and beaten nearly to death.  an officer took pity on him, threw a sheet over him, and sent him to the nurse's station. he was the only patient there and it was completely unguarded, so escape seemed quite attainable.  he asked the nurse, "what do you think would happen if i left and ran away?" her reply was, "do you have any family?" eddie said, "yes. i have a mother and a father." she explained, "they'd be hung within 30 minutes of the officers discovering you've escaped."  this obviously chilled eddie into not attempting any sort of escape.

2. eddie told us that when he and other prisoners were in a shower he couldn't help but noticed that one of the men was uncircumcised.  eddie questioned the man, "you're not a jew.  why are you in here?"  the man replied, "no, i'm not jewish.  i'm a german doctor.  one night at dinner i said that i simply do not agree with hitler.  when my little boy repeated this to his school teacher the next morning, i was arrested that afternoon."

i so badly wished that i had weeks to just sit and listen to eddie.  it was surreal to meet someone who had actually experienced such persecution firsthand.  when he showed us his prisoner number tattooed on his arm i literally got the chills.  we grow up learning about the holocaust and jewish persecution but after speaking to eddie, it made it all that much more real.