Tattoos in Honor of Holocaust Survivors

image used by a Creative Commons license A New York Times article was recently published about relatives of Holocaust survivors are getting the same tattoos forced upon their family members during the Holocaust. These tattoos are meant to honor their relatives, but not everyone agrees that it does honor them. I spoke to my close friend Josh Hersch and his brother Jeff Hersch about this subject.

Their grandparents were Holocaust survivors. Josh made a documentary honoring them by telling their story. When I asked Josh what he thought of the tattoos people were getting to honor their relatives, he said “if my grandmom had a number and I got one to remember her, she would probably flip out…because like I said, it’s against the Jewish religion to get tattoos.”

Josh also explained that his grandparents did not have numbers tattooed on them because that only took place in concentration camps like Auschwitz. Their grandparents were in the work camp called HASAG-Pelcery.

He didn’t understand why relatives would get these tattoos now. He didn’t see how it was honoring the survivors. “It’s like tagging all of [the survivors],” he told me, “they’re making them a number, not a person.” Because of that, he did not understand why relatives would get identical tattoos. He also explained that his grandmother would not like if he got a tattoo similar to the ones in the article.
Jeff's tattoo honoring his grandparents

Jeff has a tattoo (pictured to the left) in remembrance of the hardship his grandparents went through. He told me the reasoning behind it: ” it is important for me to know where I came from and what my grandparents endured just because they were Jewish.”

Jeff and Josh’s grandmother does not know Jeff has a tattoo in their honor.
Jeff was also more understanding of people who got the numbers of their relatives tattooed on them. He said, “I’d do it if they [his grandparents] had it [numbers]. It’s a very personal and meaningful idea.”

It’s very interesting to look at the different views in one family. What do you guys think? Leave a comment below!
The first image was used with permission through a Creative Commons license. This photo of Holocaust survivor, Sam Wilf belongs to Jared Polin.

The second image was courtesy of Jeff Hersch.


2 thoughts on “Tattoos in Honor of Holocaust Survivors

  1. I really love this post because it’s a real example of tattoos really being meaningful regardless what what people think when they first see them. a friend of mine recently got his grandparents’ numbers tattooed on the inside of his arm and honestly every time he shows me it I get goosebumps. i love it.

    • Thank you so much, that’s so interesting. did he show his grandfather? what’d he think?

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