Friday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the day of the liberation of Auschwitz Concentration Camp in 1945.
The day not only reminds us of what happened during the Holocaust but also for people to reflect on the lives that have been changed forever.
The Holocaust Museum and Cohen Education Center in North Naples was busier than usual on Friday. The education onlookers gain from looking at the walls was free. The heartwrenching stories of the survivors sharing their painfully real stories are enough to bring you to tears.
A man paying his respects and saying a prayer outside of the museum. CREDIT: WINK News
Holocaust survivor, Sarah Rockler, shared her story with WINK News on Friday.
“The one thing that keeps going through my mind is the cruelty of humanity,” Rockler said.
Rockler, born in Dec. 1938, just a month after Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass, is a German Jew.
“Where all the SS, the Germans military came into Jewish homes, in destroyed in the Jewish businesses,” Rockler said.
Rockler’s father hid while her mother, pregnant with Rockler at the time, somehow survived. They fled to family in Poland and were eventually caught by Russians, which at the time was good.
“If it was the Germans, because you know what they did with babies, they would throw them in the air, and they would shoot them,” Rockler said.
After their exile in Siberia, Rockler and her parents made it to Israel in 1947. But, unfortunately, many of her family didn’t.
A sign in the North Naples Holocaust museum. CREDIT: WINK News
Rob Nossen, his parents, and his brother were the only ones in his family to survive the Holocaust.
“My grandfather was taken in January. And we never heard from him again,” Nossen said.
Nossen considers himself lucky since his family didn’t go to Auschwitz. Instead, they survived in the ghetto of Amsterdam. His father, an engineer, ended up getting called back to work and eventually got citizenship from El Salvador, saving their lives.
“Because we were considered, you know, from an American country, we will no longer considered German,” Nossen said.
Those stories, and more, fill the halls of the museum. Those stories keep the memory alive of 6,000,000 lives lost. But it’s more than just a number, it’s a piece of history to be remembered and never repeated.
“Those of us who are still alive, we really have to talk about it,” Rockler said.
Friday marks the day in 1945 when 7,500 Jews were liberated from Auschwitz by the Soviet Army. In Russia, where Rockler’s family was, they didn’t find out the war was over until 1946.
Those Jews then had to walk for another year to return to Poland and find safety.