About the author of “The Last Sunrise”
It happened so long ago. Had I not forced myself with all my mental strength to imprint upon my very young mind these thoughts which I'm about to put down in print, they would have vanished from my memory long ago like the dust from the prairie.
My name is Harold Gordon now! But 58 years ago I was a 10-year-old boy whose name was Hirshel Grodzienski. I lived with my family in Grodno, Poland, a city of 74,000 inhabitants. 35,000 were of the Jewish faith and the majority were of Catholic persuasion. We lived side by side and in peace most of the time.
Grodno is located at the most north Eastern corner of Poland, on the Niemen River bordering Lithuania. 136 kilometers to the North was the Baltic Sea and the Polish port city of Gdansk.
Within months after the Nazis occupied Grodno, my entire family, except for my father, were gassed, burned and vaporized without leaving a trace of their existence.
All those years while I was imprisoned in Auschwitz, Dachau, and other extermination camps I kept praying to God. Often, when the pain became too much to bear I would say, “God, if you let me live, I promise to take revenge and kill every Nazi that crosses my path. I will make them pay for taking my family from me and leaving me without a burial site to visit.”
On May 8, 1945, when the war ended it was time to keep my promise. I began thinking. How many Nazis can I kill before I die, 10, 100, 1000? Then what? Who will remember my mother, grandparents, brother, aunts and uncles after I am gone.
I said to God, “ God, please forgive me for not keeping my promise. I have another plan in its place. I will make a good life for myself. A life that my mother would be proud of. I will raise a family, leave behind descendants so that there will be grandchildren for them to remember after I am gone. I will not forget my ancestors, I will put my memories in the deepest corner of my mind to recall them before my days on earth are ended.”
Many years later. . .
Suddenly and without warning, I heard a call. Something began rumbling in my brain like a volcano. I knew it was time to fulfill my second promise.
I sat down at my computer every night after work, like a video it was all right before my eyes. Two years later, my book, The Last Sunrise was completed.
I couldn't help but wonder. Was there something else that God had in mind for me to fulfill? I was the youngest survivor from a city of 35,000 Jews. Why was I chosen to live. I was not the smartest nor the strongest. I was tormented looking for an answer. God did not reveal himself to me. Not in my sleep nor in a vision. I had to search the deepest regions of my soul to arrive at an answer that I could accept and live with.
THREE REASONS EMERGED AND SURFACED FROM DEEP WITHIN MY HEART:
- To memorialize my beloved family, by putting their images in my book so that many, all over the world would know that they once lived and walked this earth. So that my mother in Heaven would be proud of the work I have done for my family and for others.
- To help others, who have suffered and been abused, by helping them to let go of anger and resentments in order for them to focus all their energies on positive goals and a better life for themselves and their loved ones.
- To give to charity: Whenever I speak to a Synagogue, Church, or to a service organization I always donate a portion of the proceeds from The Last Sunrise to that organization. By doing so I give to all charities and not just to my favorite.
I arrived in the U.S.A. in Dec. 1946 at the age of (15). After paying for my passage I had $10.00 left. I am happy to say that I have never collected welfare, or unemployment, I served in the Korean war, and spent 42 years as a UNOCAL DEALER in the service station business. I have donated my time during the past (5) years to public service speaking to schools, universities and to service organizations, without pay. Repaying this great country for permitting me to come here and to make it my home.
One of my greatest rewards and a fulfillment is to be witness to the erection of a permanent monument. THE UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM IN WASHINGTON D.C., and to attend the opening on April 26, 1993.
My wife Joyce and I are co-founders and Charter Members of the newly completed Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C., where my Family's records reside among the many.
PS : Another unexpected phenomenon which continues to fill my heart with joy are the hundreds of letters that I have received and continue to receive from students, teachers, professors, and others, whose lives it has changed in a positive way.