Conversation with Survivors Part I: Conversations with a Survivor and Students

Uploaded by RaritanValleyCC on 28.09.2012

The Nazis felt this was an ideal place to start a concentration camp. The list of who
was going to be deported to these so called labor camps. There was such a sea of people,
all lined up. And then there were the Nazi guards, with dogs, with shepherds. These shepherds
they were trained to kill. And they were held on a short leash and if necessary they were
let loose on people. You can actually see it in their face how
they felt and like, could feel the emotions and put yourself in their place and it’s
amazing to, how they are able to talk about it after everything they’ve been through.
The knowledge you can read out of a book is nothing close to the experience you gain from
actually listening to somebody who has been through it.
This particular situation was dubbed “Kristallnacht”. Crystal night because so much glass was broken,
so many store windows were broken, all over Germany, that people couldn’t walk on the
sidewalk. It was all full of glass. To me they were not human, they had no conscience.
They couldn’t kill fast enough. It was hard to listen to these stories because you are
just surprised and amazed about how, like how harsh people can be.
Having a speaker who actually lived through the holocaust, there’s something about it
that, you can put yourself in their shoes. There is something more personal about it.
You kind of live what they went through and there is really nothing that can replace that.
You can’t even imagine how much pain they went through and how much suffering they went
through and they are still here today, able to share the stories with us and tell us how
harsh it is and make us not forget, like, the brutality, and the harm.
If you had to count how many people you’ve seen die, like, would you be able to? I couldn’t
even count them all. Because, especially in Auschwitz, in Birkenau, in the camp. Uh, those,
those camps were filled to the brim. And the, see the thing that is so important to understand
is it didn’t come out of nowhere. The first thing the Germans did when Hitler
came to power is kill their own people. Anybody who was mentally or physically handicapped,
especially children, were euthanized. That means they were killed. When Ursula talked
about euthanasia and the German soldiers killing kids that were imperfect and that had you
know, hereditary diseases, and all that, I was shocked. To think that anyone could be
able to do that without any remorse… I don’t think what they did, a normal human
being could really do. She, on her first day going into Auschwitz, she witnessed someone
getting killed right before her eyes. I don’t understand what motivated these people. I
totally put myself in her shoes as if it was happening right before my eyes and I, I got
depressed. I mean it was, it’s something that you never want to see in your life and
she lived through it. When Ursula talked about her first day at
the camp and how the women and men were separated, brother and father were taken away from her.
And we all had to line up in fives and the SS were screaming men and women separate.
And it just kind of made me put myself in her position and opened my mind to different
situations how I should cherish and value the people around me because you never know
when they are going to be gone. Did you know that was going to be the last
time you were going to see them? No I did not. I had no idea what we were facing. I
had no clue that they were killing people in Auschwitz. Only realized it after I came
into the barrack. And that first night when the sky was lit up from the crematorium and
I still didn’t want to believe it. Did you, do you have anger against the Germans
and the German nation today? Not this current generation. I don’t blame them for the sins
of their fathers or mothers. But I will never forgive that generation that stood there in
every city in Germany, like a sea of people with their hands held high in the Hitler salute
and if they were stirred up yes kill them, kill the Jews. I will never forget that and
I will never forgive them for it. Will you go back to Auschwitz? Have you ever
been to Auschwitz? No, and I never would. I wrote my book and I still speak about it
because I feel a moral obligation to speak about it but I will never go back. I have
still have wounds that I don’t want to open them again. And, I have too many people that
I have lost and so I have no ambition to, uh, to go there.
It’s unbelievable to think that there are still people out there still killing others
for being different. Since the holocaust we have had a number of other genocides. We’ve
had the Cambodian genocide, we’ve had Bosnia and Herzegovina, um, Darfur, Rwanda, um, I’m
sure like, since you’ve experienced the Holocaust you are very angry or what kind
of reaction you had towards all that. Well, I get very upset when I hear of any
persecution of people on either religious or ethnic grounds. And, and I’m baffled
that today people still do that. Is this in human nature? Because if you go into history
they have always done it. They have always persecuted somebody and tortured somebody
and it’s very disheartening. You’d think that as a nation, as society,
as people we would learn from our past mistakes. But… This experience, it’s been ingrained
in your mind, is there ever a day where you’ve never thought about it?
I don’t live the Holocaust from morning to night. We didn’t raise our two sons to
live the Holocaust from morning to night. They know exactly what happened to us and
many people in our family. But I just have that kind of a disposition. Always did have.
It was my parent’s disposition. To be forward looking and not to be looking backwards.
Even though so much terrible things happened to her she never let it overtake her life.
She managed to have a very happy life since the Holocaust and it really it teaches me
that there is a future for you and you just have to keep reminding yourself about that.
When I listen to Ursula’s story I, I can’t even believe that she’s right in front of
us, like, she experienced everything they went through herself and the fact that she
even made it through it alive, made it through it for us to hear about it today is amazing.
I think students don’t tend to think about current genocide but classes such as this
Holocaust class bring it to life and put it straight in front of you so you can realize
that it’s current history and not something that is going on a million years ago. Hearing
these stories help us prevent these things from happening and knowing that is has happened
in the past and it’s still happening now, like there has to be something done and it
just makes our generation more aware of what’s happening and more aware of something that
you can prevent or something that you can speak and have a voice towards. We need to
be aware of what’s going on around us not just what’s going on in our own personal
lives and our country. We’re the future, you know? We, we also need to learn from our
past mistakes. You know, we can’t forget the Holocaust we can’t forget Bosnia and
Herzegovina we can’t forget Darfur. If we learn from that we can make our future a lot
better. We can stop
the genocides.