Irene Shashar was three years old when her mother He carried her through a sewer out of the Warsaw Ghetto in 1941. and hid it in some friends' closet for years to save it from certain death. At the age of 86 Her mission is to tell the world that she defeated Hitler. and ensuring that a Holocaust never occurs again.
Happy and lively, Shashar speaks to EFE from the European Parliament and drinks his third coffee of the day. He wears a bright red jacket, his blue-rimmed glasses, a yellow ribbon to demand the return of the hostages in Gaza and a pendant with a metal plate repeating the same wish in English: “Bring Them Home” (Take her home).
Question: In front of Parliament you spoke about your guilt as a hidden girl. Because?
I didn't understand why I was being punished. The Germans invaded Warsaw in September 1939. I was 1 year and seven months old. After a year and a half, I became a hidden girl. What sins could I have committed if I was put in a dark hole and told, “Don’t call me or complain”?
Today we know that it was because she was born Jewish. Hitler wanted to destroy me. I survived, but a million and a half children did not. Sometimes I wonder: could it be that I have taken another girl's place? Would she have survived if they had killed me? I ask myself this not out of guilt, but rather out of my mission to have survived.
Q. You've been telling your story for decades. Does it help you ease the burden of the past?
A. One hundred percent. Every time I talk to students, teachers, or diplomats, I find it difficult to get into the topic at first, but once I get into it, I feel relieved when I'm done. It's like I'm unloading the heavy backpack I've been carrying on my shoulders onto the next generation, hoping that they can follow the message I want to pass on, the warning that something like this will never happen in future generations will happen again.
Q. You also launched a warning in Parliament about the rise in anti-Semitism. Do you see a parallel between what you felt as a child and the attitudes you have today?
A. There is no comparison because the Holocaust was a barbarism that lasted six years and was multinational. It can't be compared, but it was a massacre. I spoke to other survivors and for us it was like a living, real thing that brought back memories. The hiding place, the German standing there with the rifle, the German shooting, killing one by one and then taking out a bottle of liquor and drinking a few sips of alcohol to forget what he had done.
Here the “déjà vu” became the terrorist who calls his father and tells him: “Dad, dad, I killed fifteen Jews.”
Q. You have reopened wounds.
A. If you burn yourself a second time, you will be reminded of the previous burn. I saw the faces of these terrorists in the videos. Sad memories come, painful memories. One cannot understand how a human being can achieve such barbarism.
Q. How have you lived in your country, Israel, for the last four months, despite getting to know both sides of the conflict?
A. Very hard, especially very hard because I have a grandson in the (Israeli) army. Do you know what it's like for my daughter not to hear from him every day? It's a martyrdom.
We didn't decide to attack them, they attacked us. I understand that the people of Gaza are not guilty of what happened and what is happening, but the people have their voice. They had to speak out, knowing full well that they were dominated by Hamas, that Hamas was building tunnels, even though the money they were being sent was for the prosperity of the country, so that they could sow and reap. The fact that they hide behind these innocent people hurts me very much. What happened hurts me very much, but that's the only way I can never repeat it again.