Unfortunately Nina Morecki was not feeling very well when I first tried to interview her about Through The Eyes Of A Survivor. The good news is, she is feeling much better now. Nina is the subject of Colette Waddell’s disturbing book about life in Poland during the Second World War. Nina was a 16 year old Jewish girl when her life changed forever. Through The Eyes Of A Survivor follows Nina from pre-war Poland to life today, in the United States. Nina has seen many things that I sincerely hope no-one in the future will have to see. To say that Nina Morecki is courageous, is the biggest understatement I have heard in the last million years. Nina survived while most of us would have perished. Now in her mid eighties she has shared her story with the world, and a gripping story it is.    
Nina, this must have taken a lot of courage to bare your soul for this book, what do you think of the end result?

I’ve actually told my story many times in lots of different ways, through smaller projects and speaking to young people in schools, however the book was a nice experience because it gave me an opportunity to tell the entire story. I am pleased with how the book turned out overall. There are as many Holocaust stories as there are survivors and all of these people survived in different ways. Even those who perished, such as Anne Frank, have had their stories told and I think this is a good thing. It is important to continue educating people about the Holocaust; otherwise they might be short-sighted about how racism might occur. After all, it is not as if this sort of thing could only happen to Jews.

I don’t want people to think I gave my testimony for this book because I think I’m an important person. Yes, I was fortunate to survive, and finding work with the Germans to help the resistance was a little nervy I suppose. But you see, this was how things were during the war. I didn’t really have too many choices. In that kind of situation you do your best. I actually thought I would die every day. I was ready for it. I thought my brother in law would but survive over me, but that was not his fate. Because so many of my friends and family died at the hands of the Nazis I feel it’s important to speak about what happened to them. In that respect I am pleased with how the book turned out, so long as it teaches others about that time in history. I wish especially for young people to learn about the Holocaust, so maybe by reading stories like mine they might guard against a similar thing occurring.

There are wounds that can never fully heal, but do you feel a sense of relief having your story finally told?

Well, first let me say that the war didn’t cause me to hate all Germans. There were some good people among them who actually helped me. To tell the truth I didn’t even have time to hate people and I always kept in my emotions as much as possible. When I think about it now, there were many different people who were guilty of allowing what happened during the Holocaust, and not all of them were Germans. Regular Poles claimed they didn’t know what was happening to the Jews and other prisoners of the Nazis, but they must have known something was going on.
As for feeling relief, no I’ll never have that no matter how much time passes. I’ll always feel the loss of my family and friends. My husband used to ask me why I couldn’t let the past go, but I don’t know that one could ever come to terms with such an experience. I know that I couldn’t change what happened, but I refuse to forget it. A fellow Jew once told me she was “tired of hearing about the Holocaust,” and I had a very difficult time with that comment. I try to disregard these kinds of statements. Unless a person goes through something like mass genocide, well then of course how could they possibly understand?

When I look at the state of the world (Iraq, Afghanistan, parts of Africa, etc), it saddens me, it is as if no one has learnt from history. What is the solution?

I think it’s terrible to see racism in our country and genocide occurring around the world. Politicians claim to be helping, but it seems to me that many of them no longer have integrity or honesty. I believe our first priority is to protect our own country against racism because our nation is supposed to be based on a free society. To look for answers to the genocide and violence throughout the world is more difficult. It’s frightening to see how fanatics are being encouraged to kill innocent people. It’s terribly wrong to take the life of another. Maybe I’m being overcritical, but I feel that our leaders need to be much stronger in making decisions. Americans also need to work harder and appreciate their freedom. The work ethic in this country was much different when I was an immigrant. Now everybody wants something free, and so other groups that have worked hard all their lives, such as the elderly.

One of the endearing aspects of the book was the clear friendship that developed between you and Colette as the book came together. Did this make it easier or harder to create the book?

When Colette and I decided to work together it was because we connected as human beings. This was not a project that would go quickly, so I needed someone who was patient and diligent; someone who had compassion. Colette and I have also been very honest with each other from the very beginning. If one of us didn’t like the way a portion of the book turned out we would talk it over and come to a compromise. When I first met Colette it felt like just another coincidence in my life, such as how I ended up surviving or how I came to speak of my experience in local schools. But I do believe in destiny, so maybe a little of that was why Colette and I ended up working together.

Simon Barrett




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