Tibi Ram, the soldier, grew up as a patriot. His heart was beating for his native country, Hungary, much less for his religion. For the national socialists he was a jew though, and when they occupied his homeland in 1944, him and his family were sent to Auschwitz, subsequently to Breslau and then on the death march to Bergen-Belsen. The day of his liberation simultaneously was the day his father died – his brother died one day later. Yet, like a miracle, Tibi always concentrated on the positive things and finally found a new dream: building the country of Israel. Nowadays he is one of the oldest soldiers in Israel, has served in each of the country’s seven wars. In one the first Kibbuzim he helped cultivate the land and still resides in the community of a Kibbuz with his daughters.
»When I was there for the first time again and I saw the mass graves, that was the first time I really got touched. I stood at the ramp of Birkenau and I stood there in uniform, and I was proud to stand there.«
born 1928 in Germany, now resides in Jerusalem
Tibi Ram is a patriot through and through – as a Hungarian and as an Israeli. Even as a small child his heart beat for his native country. The more incomprehensible it was that the love for his homeland was worthless during national socialist dominion. And even after the period of pogrom, after camps and death marches, it was his first impulse to return to Hungary. That there was nothing left he could return to, was a grave lesson.
Israel finally gave the displaced person something worth fighting for and Tibi wanted to be the best. When the original settlers worked in the fields for seven hours, he worked for ten. When they wore short pants, his were shorter. He displays the same enthusiasm to this day when he talks about the past and shows us the Kibbuz he lives in.
It is hard to believe with how much vigor the 80-year-old jumps over puddles and runs through the rain. With unbridled energy he dives into political debates and inquires for our opinion.
The time in Afikim flew by and the conversation leaves a jovial, almost unburdened impression, even though Tibi did not exclude the horrible things from his story. Still, this is exactly what makes us ponder: one does not expect a joyful survivor. After the events of WW2 something like this is hard to imagine. His daughter, too, shake her head as she stops by from her apartment in the neighborhood and hears that her father once again cheerfully talks about the past.
As Tibi thinks of the his return to the death camp of Birkenau with a group of Israeli youths, he becomes pensive again. He remembers how, for the first time, he had been truly touched by his experiences.
We cannot assess how Tibi is doing today. Each survivor has opened up to us – how much we do not know. But we do know that each small glimpse and every accommodation has impressed and changed us.