A bracelet of memory

I have not yet met Bonnie Glogover “in the flesh,” as the saying goes, but I know her very well; today’s internet makes this different kind of friendship possible. We “met,” as it were, after she found online something I’d written about the Holocaust, and shared with me her own history: honoring the memory of all those who suffered. Her late father was one of them; she has the picture to prove it. …

Titled “A transport of Hungarian Jews’ arrival to Birkenau-Auschwitz,” this remarkable shot is backgrounded by rising smoke. In the foreground, a jackbooted German in uniform, facing a huge crowd. To his left: another of the same, hands-on in control of a group that clearly shows a young woman carrying a baby and an old woman — a “babushka” with fully covered head — facing the camera. At farthest left, a small group of men in the “pajamas” that have come to be known as the uniform of inmates, in that grim scene for who-knows-what reason, clearly under the control of another uniformed “keeper.” Were these folks actually brought to be “welcomers”? The caption below Bonnie’s treasured newspaper memento identifies a tall young man: “In the striped uniform second from left, Stanley Glogover, 1944, age 19.”

Bonnie has made remembering the Holocaust her life work; she calls her business “I Remember — Against Genocide.” In her personal collection of photos is one that shows a chunk of brown — perhaps earth, perhaps a stone. Below it, the words “A remnant from Auschwitz.” Above it, her words: “A piece of your history. We would not be a family if you had not been able to survive.”

An activist in this unusual career, Bonnie is fearless in her efforts. And she has achieved important results, such as securing pledges from leading U.S. calendar publishers to include Holocaust Memorial Day dates on their products in perpetuity. And she has enlisted both a designer and a manufacturer to help carry out this ongoing “I Remember” project — production of a bracelet both beautiful and truthful in its grim simplicity. I am wearing one now; it recreates, in precious metal miniature, the train tracks that led young Shlomo Glogover and so many others to Auschwitz. 

This is not an ordinary piece of jewelry. It must be locked on the wrist with a special pin that accompanies it, and can only be removed the same way. I carry that pin with me always, in a small pouch in my purse or pocket, in case I’ll ever again need to be without anything but my skin in a medical emergency. Bonnie thought big about creating this subtle Holocaust symbol: Her “I Remember” bracelet comes only in precious metals. Mine is silver; for those with other tastes and more resources, it’s also available in gold and platinum. Whatever, it tells the whole tale through the simplest replication possible.

I wrote in this same space some years ago, at the request of a now long-gone Dallas survivor, telling the story behind the engraved bricks that have been placed in front of many houses in several European cities. Each one of these “stepping stones” identifies the Jewish family that occupied the home before deportation. These markers have not been without controversy; there is pain in the remembering for relatives of those taken away, and shame for some descendants of those who did the taking. My bracelet is not controversial. It could not be simpler in conveying its meaning, and no one will ever trip over it. Please ask about it when you see me. Please look. Please join me in saying, with my new friend Bonnie Glogover, “I remember.” Forever …

Harriet Gross can be reached at harrietgross@sbcglobal.net.

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