The Secret of Survival

My grandfather and I were going to have dinner when lightning flashed outside the window and a few seconds later thunder rumbled nearby, confirming with its grunts that rain was about to fall. Large raindrops hit the pane of glass with force, tapping the sad melody known only to them. Sitting in a warm room with a loved one and watching the bad weather outside the window gives a unique feeling of comfort, peace, and inner harmony. I know that my grandfather had a very difficult life. He survived war, famine and the loss of his beloved wife. What strikes me most is not that he, despite all this, lived to be 90 years old, but that he has been carrying around his whole life the cheerfulness and the indestructible faith in humanity that is sometimes so cruel. I ask him about it. He takes a drag on a cigarette. “In 1944, I was arrested and sent to the Buchenwald camp. Appendicitis partially saved me. I was operated by a prisoner of war. And then every day I ripped open the wound so that it would strongly fester, and I would not be forced to work. I was in the quarantine block, where 1000 other people lived. We were packed in like sardines. Every morning 10-12 corpses were pulled out of the barracks and taken away on a gig to the crematorium. Before burning them, clothes were removed and golden teeth were ripped out. The commandant's wife regularly went out to the parade ground and openly chose people with "beautiful", in her opinion, skin. The prisoner got a commemorative tattoo, and after his death, bags and purses were made of his skin.” He lifts the sleeve of his pullover. “Look” He shows a light strip of skin on his left forearm. IT was here. The number that he got tattooed when he arrived in Buchenwald. Number 23724. He says that after his return from the concentration camp, he became an atheist. “I swore to myself that I would not bring Jewish children in this world. The world was saturated with anti-Semitism, and I did not want them to be offended or killed at any time, simply because they were Jews.” He sits in silence for a moment, takes a sip of the tea, looks out the window. On the terrace, several alpine violets bravely resist strong gusts of wind and the first winter colds. “I joined the international underground organization of Buchenwald, which was preparing an uprising. A receiver was hidden in the bucket of one of our members' hut. The Americans easily entered Buchenwald, whose liberation had already begun from within by our underground resistance. Later many wondered: how could a group of deadly exhausted people break through the armed guards and meet the Americans? What inhuman willpower had to be possessed? After all, every day only half of the prisoners returned from the quarry. The rest perished from exhaustion. In fact, those who are called people with a strong will are just people who know how to long for what they are fighting for. For a desire to be effective, its strength must be directly proportional to challenges that must be overcome on the way to the goal. This strong desire cannot, however, be blind, unreasonable. It should flow from the firm values and the principles of behavior of a man, should be determined by his worldview. I will never forget the night on the train bound for Buchenwald. It was snowing everywhere. The compartment was deadly cold. We were left for many days in wagons without beds, thus, without the possibility of somehow warming ourselves. An old man, who was very loved in my city, was sitting next to me. He was trembling all over and looked terrible. I wrapped my arms around him to warm him. I hugged him tightly to give off some heat. I rubbed his hands, feet, face, neck. I begged him to stay alive. I encouraged him. Thus, I kept this man warm all night. I myself was tired and cold. My fingers were numb, but I did not stop massaging the body of this man to warm him. Finally, morning came, the sun began to sparkle. I looked around me to see other people. To my horror, all I could see were frozen corpses. All I could hear was the silence of death. The frosty night killed almost everyone. Among the few survivors was the old man and me. The old man survived because I did not let him freeze, and I remained alive because I kept him warm. Let me tell you the secret of survival in this world. When you warm the hearts of others, then you will warm yourself as well. I do not call for abstract humanism where everyone should help everyone in everything and turn the other cheek when somebody hits them. But fixation only with oneself and one's problem only aggravates the situation. It creates an artificial wall between the person and the rest of the world, which leads to loneliness. When you support and inspire others, then you also receive support and inspiration in your life. As Zig Ziglar famously said, “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”

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