GRIGORY KANOVICH: IN MEMORIAM
He was a few years older than our parents. As our parents’ older brother. This is how we always perceived him and his wife Olga, as a bit older siblings of our parents.
And theirs was a special generation. The generation of the children of the Second World War. The Jewish children of Eastern Europe and the Baltic states. Those who were lucky to survive.
My mom was nine years old when the Holocaust came to Ukraine. Her memories were the ones of a shocked and terrified girl whose understanding of happiness was an image of an apple and a bun, and who just absolutely could not hear a sound of a German language till the end of her life , despite the family being Yiddish-speaking and it was supposed to be close. But it was not for her.
My father was eleven at the start of implementing the Final Solution in Ukraine. He saw things from the point of view of a quiet and intelligent, a bit older Jewish boy, I concluded, observing his attitude towards the conversations about the war. Against the background of practically daily conversation, mentioning, sigh, memory, allusion towards the war in my family during the decades after it, my father was absolutely silent. Always.
His silence was different from the silence of the other members of my family. My grandfather ‘s silence, for example, was so fierce that you can feel his burning anger decades after the war, as long as he lived, actually. My father’s silence about the war was not fierce, but it also was not numb, if you know what I mean. It was the silence of a fundamentally wounded boy who decided not to show it up. And he did not. His despice towards the perpetrators of the Final Solution was as complete and absolute, as his silence about it.
And Grisha, as we always called our dear friend despite his indisputable seniority in every sense, Grisha was a year older than my father. He was twelve when the WWII broke and ran with his family from the death, direct death and total destruction which that 12-year old Jewish boy from the Lithuanian Jonava saw at extremely close distance. From no distance, actually, no distance at all.
What is the age of 12 years for the Jewish boy in a traditional family? It is the age when a boy starts to be prepared for his bar Mitzvah , to become a man, an adult. The preparations make him far more attentive, his mind seriously more disciplined and better organised, his memory sharpen to the degree of a qualitative change. Because the concept of adulthood in Jewish traditions means an ability to analyse and to make conclusions.
My father who was eleven in 1941, did not start to prepare for bar Mitzvah. Grisha Kanovich , who was already twelve, did. We always did and always will call him with that loving name because he was the man whom one can only love. Despite a total horror which he observed in his life for all the years of the Shoah, total devastation which he faced during post-Shoah years, Grisha was kind, deep, wise, measured, warm and soulful special man whose soul, I believe , expanded to accommodate the souls of his murdered brethren , as from his Jonava shtetl, as from the 96,5% of the over 200 000 Lithuanian Jewry annihilated in the Shoah with diabolic efficiency, as of many of those minimum six million of our people annihilated during the Holocaust. Continue Reading….