While in one part of southern California students were recently asked to debate if the Holocaust had ever happened, in nearby Los Angeles an advocacy group for children of Holocaust survivors is trying in its own unique way to ensure that a genocide of the Jews will never again occur by training its members in the use of firearms for self-defense.
The group, Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, last week hosted the gun instruction course in which they learned from a former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officer who taught them the basics of safe firearm handling and shooting.
“Students will learn the different types of firearms, … different types of ammo, … the safe handling of a firearm, choosing the right firearm, storing a firearm at home, and using the firearm for self-protection and/or for recreation,” read an announcement for the session on the group’s website.
During the full day event, they would learn how to change a magazine, how to troubleshoot malfunctions, and how to shoot at seven and ten yards in both standing and kneeling positions.
In encouraging people to attend, the Holocaust survivor children’s group posited that an armed civilian population could have stopped historical crimes against unarmed minorities including those under Stalin, in Cambodia and European Jews. “Atrocities could have been prevented with bullets and rifles. There is no virtue in being unprepared. Do you want Never Again to really be Never Again? … Freedom is not Free,” its invitation to the class read.
A reporter with the news service the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) attended the session at the Angeles Shooting Range and interviewed the elderly children of Holocaust survivors who said they were undergoing the firearms training in honor of their parents.
“We talk about defending ourselves, but we have to do something aside from sharing email articles,” the president of Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors Doris Wise Montrose told JTA.
After hitting her mark, Montrose quipped, “No cattle car for me,” in reference to the transport of European Jews from their hometowns to the Nazi concentration camps.
Among the eight trainees who attended the sold-out session was Lea Rosenfeld whom JTA described as “a soft-spoken, bespectacled woman who looks like a Jewish grandmother.” Rosenfeld said she attended for her parents both of whom survived the Holocaust.
“My question has always been why they didn’t fight back, and my mother could never give me a good answer,” Rosenfeld told JTA. “They weren’t prepared for it, they didn’t believe it was going to happen and they didn’t have anything to fight back with.”
Before last week, Rosenfeld had never held a gun before. “I’m still shaking,” she said after shooting five bullets from a handgun, missing the target each time.
“When the Muslims say they want to kill us and drive us into the sea, I believe them,” retired cancer surgeon David Sievers told JTA, which noted he is also a reserve sheriff’s deputy “who turns out to be a crack shot.”
Their instructor, former IDF lieutenant Itamar Gelbman, 32, is himself the grandson of Holocaust survivors.
JTA wrote that he taught the group to make sure to use “square feet, square shoulders, both eyes open.”
Last year, an Israeli grandmother discovered that her late husband, a Holocaust survivor, was secretly stockpiling a variety of weapons as his way to ensure he and his family were always protected. After discovering his cache, she brought four crates worth of weapons including an Uzi machine gun, a 38 mm Colt handgun as well as numerous cartridges and flares to the local police station.
“My father was a Holocaust survivor who immigrated to Israel as a child. Ever fearful of another war, he had been especially afraid assailants might confiscate his possessions, thus he hoarded weapons,” his daughter told the Israeli news site Ynet.
See the full report form JTA including photos from the day at the shooting range at this link.