by Bridget Saltonstall
On Sunday, May 4, at 7:30 pm in the Town House, the Concord Selectmen will sponsor the 28th Holocaust Memorial Observance. Polish survivor Hyme Hipsman, father of Concord resident Irwin Hipsman, will recount his remarkable story. Once again Rosalie Gerut, daughter of survivors, will perform her original music.
Hyme Hipsman was born in 1925 in Wlodowa, Poland, on the Russian border. He was a young teenager when, in 1939, Germany invaded his country. At that time Poland’s population was 70% Jewish, and Mr. Hipsman remembers that slowly but steadily, the Germans began to eradicate Jews, sending many to nearby Sobibor, one of several extermination camps where all prisoners, save a few chosen to work, were put to death within 24 hours after arrival.
Early in the occupation, the Germans kept Wlodow unchanged. Eventually, the entire village was forced by the Germans to work, filling in neighboring wetlands. The German engineer who directed this project befriended the young Hyme – and saved his life many times by not allowing him to be sent off to a death camp.
However in 1943, after the Germans announced the Final Solution to exterminate all Jews and realizing that he could no longer be protected, Mr. Hipsman ran off to the forest where he fought with the Resistance until the end of the war.
After the war, Mr. Hipsman lived in a resettlement camp, where he met his wife, also a survivor. The couple immigrated to Kansas City, Missouri, in 1950. Mr. Hipsman made his living there as a tailor.
The Concord Board of Selectmen will issue a Proclamation on April 14 declaring the week of April 27–May 4 as Concord’s official Days of Remembrance for the Victims of the Holocaust. In light of a world that struggles to remember its humanity, the Selectmen recognize the importance of this annual Observance to help us recall the horrors of the past so that we might shape a better future that reveres the dignity of all people.
The C-C Human Rights Council coordinates this Observance, which is free and open to the public.