Shortly before they were rounded up by Nazi troops in Belgium and deported to Auschwitz in 1942, the parents of three-year-old Maurice Gluck placed their only child in the care of a local Christian family. Gluck forgot his Yiddish mother tongue and that he even had parents of his own.
After the war, his devastated father came to claim him and several months later he was introduced to a weeping woman who showered him with hugs and kisses.
“My father said: ‘Look Maurice, this is your mother, Helen,’” he recalled.
Only years later, did Gluck discover that his birth mother had actually perished along with more than a million other Jews in the Auschwitz death camp. Helen was in fact his aunt.
“She discovered that her sister had died so she looked for ways to find me immediately,” Gluck explained, choking back tears. “She was my only mother and will always be my mother.”
Seventy-five years after Auschwitz was liberated, Gluck is one of 75 Holocaust survivors featured in a commemorative photo project that Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial produced along with award-winning German portrait photographer Martin Schoeller.
The exhibition, opening Tuesday before German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Ruhr Museum in Essen, is just one of the various events marking the anniversary and commemorating its victims as the notorious camp’s few and aging survivors slowly disappear. Yad Vashem is also unveiling its online iRemember Wall, a six-language interactive platform linking users to the memorial’s vast database of victims.
The main ceremony will be the World Holocaust Forum on Thursday, in which dozens of world leaders will arrive in Jerusalem for the largest-ever gathering focused on commemorating the genocide and combating modern-day anti-Semitism. Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron, Prince Charles of England and the presidents of Germany, Italy and Austria are among the more than 40 dignitaries who will be attending the event.