NEW HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A community gathered Thursday in Rockland County to fulfill the promise to never forget.
They laid to rest some unknown victims of the Holocaust, murdered more than 70 years ago, more than 4,000 miles away.
They grieved for the dead without knowing their names. Bound by faith and history, a community indelibly marked by the Holocaust buried ashes of unknown victims from a death camp in Poland.
“I feel that we are really honored, blessed, having these remains left in our hands,” said Paul Galan, the president of the Rockland Holocaust Museum.
The discovery was made earlier this year as the Rockland Holocaust Museum moved to a new home, and a collection of items from Auschwitz was taken out of storage.
“And as we we were going through the collection, we discovered this box. And we didn’t quite was in the box. It was marked ‘Ashes from Chelmno’ with a question mark,” said curator Julie Golding.
Chelmno was a Nazi death camp where almost 200,000 Jews were murdered.
The museum took the box to an expert at a local crematorium who found pieces of bone and confirmed it was human remains, reported CBS2’s Tony Aiello.
“Our immediate reaction was disbelief. How could this be in the museum archives? How could we have something like this? Where would it have come from?” said Golding.
The museum learned that the man who donated the box lost his mother and sister at Chelmno. When he was liberated from Auschwitz, he went there and collected ashes.
Thursday, the ashes were buried with respect and reverence, seven decades and 4,000 miles fistant from the darkness of the death camp.
“Here, at least there will be sunlight, people visiting, reciting prayers. And if there is such a thing as a human soul, I think they will smile,” said Galan.
May their memory be a blessing.