In 1961, the Israeli government captured, investigated, tried, and sentenced to death Adolph Eichmann, one of Hitler’s high-ranking officers, who was in charge of operating and commanding Nazi troops to murder all Jewish people under Nazi occupation (Remember.org)[Read more about the trial]. The world watched the trial in which dozens of survivors recalled their close and dreadful encounters with Eichmann and their experiences during the Holocaust. The events of this trial made it all the way to the small town of O’Neal where one of Bea’s neighbors became intrigued to learn more about the Holocaust. That neighbor, who was also a teacher at the local school, asked Bea if she would be willing to tell her story to the teachers during a Teachers’ Tea. Bea accepted her friend’s invitation. She had been working hard at being more outgoing and friendly, even taking “The Dale Carnegie” course, which encouraged shy individuals to share stories of their childhoods. During the Tea, in front of a dozen new faces, she talked about the only childhood she knew—one of a Holocaust survivor.
She confessed that during that first talk, she told only those stories that did not make her cry, those which were a little easier to share. Bea explained to me the importance of the Eichmann trial to the world, as well as to the Jewish Nation and herself.
“People were suddenly thinking about WWII. And they were thinking about the Jews and what happened to them. To tell you the truth, it was one of the best things that happened to awaken the world” (Interview Karp). After the Teachers’ Tea, she was asked to speak at other venues, in front of other audiences. She always made an effort to accept any invitation to speak and to tell her stories, her history, even though speaking publicly is not easy for her.
“At first I had a very bad time about it. It was very difficult for me. After all these years I still get emotional. It pulls me back too much and the emotions I felt then I can still feel. But now I think it’s helped me a lot psychologically. I don’t hold it all inside of me. I feel like I’m doing something good, and I feel my parents would really want me to do it, too. If I can just teach one person each time I tell my story, it’s well-worthwhile” (IHE 12).
Even though Bea is constantly asked to speak with students and educators, her own experiences as a student herself were extremely short-lived. Bea never liked going to school, even before the Nazis prohibited Jews from attending.
“I had one year of school in Germany,” she recalls her short encounter with elementary education. Hitler’s government had placed sanctions on Jews from the very beginning, preventing the further education of even young children by making it illegal for them to attend school of any kind. Yet, young Beate (the German pronunciation of her name) did not care that much. She continued explaining that such sanctions were prevalent even before Kristallnacht, The Night of Broken Glass, which occurred on November 9, 1938. This was the night when Nazi mobs, also known as the Brown Shirts, attacked Jewish facilities, synagogues, homes, and businesses by burning, breaking, and brutally destroying these establishments. It is called the Night of Broken Glass because of all the pieces of broken glass littering the streets of Germany after the raid. This event had marked the horrible turning point for Jews in Nazi territories, foreseeing the Nazi agenda of destroying the Jewish people.
Although sanctions against the Jews were in full force, young Bea’s childhood remained mostly unaffected by the events, her parents and family keeping her safe and sheltered. The first time Bea understood something was wrong was while she was playing on the streets of her neighborhood. She watched a giant tank roll slowly down the street, kicking up dust as it passed through. Frightened, Bea ran to find her mother. “That was the start of it all. That was the end of my childhood,” she recalled (IHE 16).
Bea’s family began evaluating their new reality. In 1937, her uncle, aunt, and grandmother decided to leave Germany for the wild and unknown territories of Palestine, where Jews hoped to migrate to establish a Jewish population in the land of Zion and save themselves from the escalation of events in Europe: “My uncle knew what was going to be. So he took my aunt and grandmother and left for Palestine,” Bea recalled with sadness (Interview Karp). Unfortunately, she never got to see her beloved grandmother again, who died before Bea had a chance to make the trip to Israel. Her father Moritz and mother Rosa were hesitant about leaving Germany. “I think my father was a bit scared of leaving Lauterbach because, you know, where were we going to go? What were we going to do? My father had responsibilities. He