February 18th, 2020 – Lev Mouchnik is one of hundreds of thousands of Survivors of the Holocaust that live in Israel. At 87, he comes to Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem at least twice a month to tell his incredible story of surviving a Nazi death camp to groups from different countries that come to visit Israel.
Last month he met with a group of 200 tourists from Moscow who took his story with them and re-told it in Russia. Few days later Lev received a call from a woman, who recognized him from the story. She turned out to be Lev’s distant relative.
Today Lev met with a group of 45 German Christians, led by Pastor Martin Groschel, who came to Jerusalem for pilgrimage, to retrace the footsteps of Jesus, and to meet with a survivor. The meeting was coordinated by Ella, a Helping Hand Coalition for Israel representative. Lev told his story of living through a nightmare of the Death Loop – a Nazi death camp in Pechora, Ukraine. Out of the many vivid pictures he shared, one especially stood out: that of two children, lying dead on the ground as one of them tried to snatch a small piece of dry bread from the other.
Many of the German listeners had tears in their eyes as they asked Lev many questions. “Do you hate Germans? Have you forgiven us?” – were some of them. Lev’s answer to that is astonishing and piercing to the heart: he can not hold this generation responsible for what their forefathers did. He believes that not only other people suffered during WWII, but much harm was done to the Germans as well. He said that many people who were in the group today needed to hear what he had to say and to be set free from the heavy burden of guilt that their fathers/grandfathers participated in war crimes. Lev has many German friends whom he visits in Berlin and who come to visit him in Israel.
Lev regularly visits Israeli schools and shares his memories with teens to keep the awareness of the Holocaust pertinent to the young generation. All other survivors from the same death camp whom he knew have died. Of course Lev can not share everything that he remembers, it is hard on him and he says he has to take sleeping pills to help him sleep. Lev has chosen to share his incredible story nevertheless – and we are grateful for his courage in preserving the history – so that these things may never happen again.