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September 21, 2023

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Generation will be last to hear Holocaust stories first-hand

Monday night, author Marion Blumenthal Lazan spoke to a packed room of students, faculty and residents about the horrors she was subjected to as a child during the Holocaust.

Lazan spent almost her entire childhood, from ages four to 10, under Nazi oppression with her parents and brother.

When her family’s escape from Germany to the U.S. was foiled due to the Nazis’ invasion of Holland, the country in which they were staying at the time, she spent more than half a decade in horrific, miserable situations.

First she lived in Westerbork, a deportation camp and then Bergen-Belson, the same concentration camp in which budding-writer Anne Frank died.

Miraculously, Lazan, her parents and her brother all survived Bergen-Belson.

But sadly, her father passed away just weeks after their liberation.

While she said it is understandable that her older brother Albert won’t speak of the Holocaust, Lazan is determined to share her story in order to educate those who didn’t witness the horrors of the Holocaust first hand.

The majority of Holocaust survivors are no longer with us.

Those who are still alive were children who are now in their 70s and 80s.

It is clear, Lazan said during her lecture, that this generation will be the last to hear first-hand accounts of the Holocaust.

Many of us have learned about the Holocaust in grade school. We know that six million Jews were murdered, along with five million gay people, Romani people, physically and mentally disabled people, political prisoners and other groups who the Nazis deemed unworthy of life.

We learned that one million of these victims were children.

And yet, we feel a great amount of distance from the Holocaust that keeps us from grasping the reality of what happened.

This troubles Lazan, and prompted her to help create a documentary called Marion’s Triumph.

According to Sharon Schatz Rosenthal’s article “Survivor Film Aims to Educate Students” in the Jewish Journal, Marion’s Triumph director John Chua “became inspired to create a Holocaust-related documentary in 1994, when students at Castlemont High School in Oakland were reportedly laughing and heckling during a screening of ‘Schindler’s List.’”

Chua knew students would be able to understand the true terror of the Holocaust if they could watch actual footage and hear testimony straight from the mouth of someone who survived.

This kind of action is very important in order defy Holocaust deniers and keep the rest of the world knowledgeable, so this atrocity can never be repeated.

Lazan urged those who attended her lecture to share her story with those who couldn’t attend, so that’s what I’m doing.

Go to her website, and read about her life.

Visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s website (and the actual museum, if you can) to learn how you can challenge anti-Semitism and genocide.

Look at the photographs and footage that captured the horrors of the Holocaust.

Use the internet to read and listen to the accounts of Holocaust survivors.

We can’t allow a distance to grow between us and reality, no matter how long ago something happened, because if we don’t learn from our past, we will be doomed to repeat it.

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