On Nov. 27 in the Carl DeSantis Building, Holocaust survivor Hanna Temel shared stories of her battle to stay alive during the Holocaust. Around 85 students attended.
Gary Gershman, associate professor in the Division of Humanities, coordinated the event.
Gershman said that he has done this in the past and hopes to continue to have a Holocaust survivor speak on campus every year, as part of his Holocaust and genocide class. He opens the event to the community at large, as he feels that it is highly important for everyone to hear survivors sharing their story firsthand.
Temel was born in 1930 in Brno, the second largest city in what used to be Czechoslovakia, She is one of youngest holocaust survivors from that nation.
Temel said that had she beenyounger, she “wouldn’t be here because Nazis killed all the children in the camps.” At the time she was 14 years old.
“I only survived because I was tall for my age, so I was able to say I was older than I really was,”Temel said.
Temel survived the Riga Ghetto in Latvia and Theresienstadt concentration camp in the former military fortress of Terezín. Temel said that three days before her birthday, the German Nazis deserted the camp, fleeing from the Soviets. Temel had told a friend about five months prior, that for her birthday, they would all be free. On Mar.13, Temel’s birthday, that hope came true, as Soviet troops liberated the camp.
Rebecca Karimi, adjunct English professor, attended the event and said, “Students hearing firsthand accounts from a Holocaust survivor concretizes the historical event of the Holocaust. It adds another dimension to their learning that they cannot attain from a video, audio, or written transcript.”
Rehan Sherali, sophomore political science major, said he was glad that professor Gershman was able to organize this event.
“It’s great for the history, political science majors and everyone in general to create awareness of what has gone on. It’s good to get firsthand details as to how gruesome and atrocious that period of time was in Germany,” Sherali said.
Gershman said that this generation will be the last to be able to speak with survivors. He emphasized the importance of hearing their stories firsthand, as a means of preventing future genocides.
Gershman said, “Maybe if we hear about it and talk to enough people as time moves on, we may eventually be able to stop things like this from ever even happening.”