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World War II infantry veteran Carrol Walsh, top, hugs Holocaust survivor Paul Arato at a reunion in Queensbury, N.Y., on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2009. Walsh’s unit liberated a Nazi train carrying 2,500 Jewish prisoners, including Arato, from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany during the war’s waning days. (AP Photo/Tim Roske)

I am reposting this today to honor both of the men below. Paul Arato passed away this week in Toronto, Canada and his memorial service is today. Carrol Walsh, his liberator, died in Dec. at his home in Florida and his memorial service was last Friday in New York.

Paul and Rona would also check in annually for dinner with the Walsh family when they passed through our town. The last time I saw both of them together was in 2011 at one of these dinners in a local restaurant. They sat together and laughed and joked like old pals. Paul told the story of how he arrived in Detroit after the war as an eager late teen anxious to find work designing fast cars in the automobile industry and was driven to the bridge in Canada by law enforcement and pointed to the bridge to Canada, as he did not have the proper documentation. Picturing the scene in his mind, Carrol would laughed outloud and slapped his knee. Both men were so happy to have found each other.

Rest on, friends.

Holocaust Survivors Reunite With US Veterans

NY high school reunites Holocaust survivors liberated from Nazi death train by US soldiers

By CHRIS CAROLA

The Associated Press

HUDSON FALLS, N.Y.

The Holocaust survivor was 6 on that spring day in 1945 when he last saw the U.S. Army soldiers outside Magdeburg, Germany.

Paul Arato was among 2,500 starving and sickly Jewish prisoners from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, their train abandoned by its crew and Nazi guards as Allied forces advanced. Two U.S. Army tanks on a scouting patrol — one of them commanded by Carrol Walsh, then 24 — came upon the stopped boxcars.

Arato, now 71, and Walsh, 88, met again this week.

“Please give me a hug. You saved my life,” Arato told Walsh in an emotional reunion of concentration camp survivors and some of the veterans of the 30th Infantry Division who liberated them.

Arato, an industrial designer from Toronto, and Walsh, a retired state Supreme Court judge from Hudson Falls, came together for a Hudson Falls High School history symposium inspired by history teacher Matthew Rozell’s original World War II project in 2007.

“You were all kids on that train,” Walsh told the survivors, most of them in their early 70s, as they and their families greeted the veteran. “I was an old man. I was 24 years old!”

Those arriving early for Wednesday’s opening session gathered Tuesday night for an impromptu reunion before having dinner surrounded by the faux Adirondack decor of the nearly deserted indoor water park. Four of the five Nazi train survivors at the dinner had never met Walsh.

Walsh’s tank patrol discovered the desperate Bergen-Belsen survivors on April 13 — hundreds of emaciated Jewish prisoners who had been herded aboard one of three trains leaving the camp a week earlier to keep them from being liberated by advancing Allied forces.

Walsh’s patrol stayed for a time, handing out candy to some of the children, then moved on after reporting their discovery. Frank Towers, a 27-year-old first lieutenant in the 30th Division, led a convoy that took the newly liberated prisoners to a German town where they were given food and shelter.

For weeks, the men of the 30th had heard of Nazi atrocities against Jews and dismissed the stories as propaganda, Towers said. That all changed when they encountered the train.

“Then we believed,” said Towers, 93, of Brooker, Fla.

This week’s reunion is the fourth since 2007, when Walsh was joined by three of the train survivors at Hudson Falls High. History teacher Rozell’s World War II project included an Internet posting of Walsh’s account of the train liberation.

An Associated Press report of that first reunion prompted more survivors to come forward, some from as far away as Israel, Rozell said. In all, he has confirmed that more than 60 survivors are still living and has been in contact with about two dozen of them.

Nine survivors of the Nazi death train are participating in this symposium, along with Walsh, Towers and four other veterans of the 30th who fought in Germany. Rozell said this week’s gathering is likely to be the last such event of its scope, given the advanced ages of the veterans and survivors.

For Arato, Tuesday night’s reunion with Walsh brought back a flood of memories. He recalled getting candy from one of the soldiers and a handgun to play with.

“I remember it was a Tootsie Roll,” he said. “The gun wasn’t loaded.”

Arato fretted over one detail. He recalled seeing a Jeep along with the American tanks, but fellow survivor Fred Spiegel of Howell, N.J., didn’t remember seeing a third vehicle. Later, Walsh said his patrol consisted of two tanks — and a Jeep.

“There WAS a Jeep,” Arato said, a smile breaking out on his face. “I remembered it right.”

———

On the Net:

Hudson Falls High School World War II Living History Project: http://www.hfcsd.org/ww2

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wires/2009/09/23/holocaust-survivors-reuni_0_ws_296673.html

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3781062,00.html

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American Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach, the primary landing zone for Americans during the D-Day invasion June 6, 1944. (U.S. Air Force Photo)Today one of my former students emailed me to visit saying that she had a surprise for me. She brought me a present- sand from the beach at Omaha in Normandy.

This was originally posted four Junes ago, I re-post here now.

I came into school today, on a Saturday, to start packing up my room for a move to another room.

But it is the 6th of June.

Instead I am getting nothing done, mesmerized by the scenes, live from Normandy, of the 65th anniversary celebration.

The President is there and so are 250 American veterans of the battle for Normandy,  including one of my good  friends, Buster Simmons, of the 30th Infantry Division. The Greatest Generations Foundation sponsored his visit with 9 other vets and college kids. Now I’m looking for him in the sea of faces.

My son Ned and I watched him last night as a “Person of the Week” on ABC World News in a story I contributed to. If you view the clip, you can see the photograph I provided ABC with, taken by Major Clarence Benjamin, of the liberation of the train. This is the photo that Buster uses when he speaks to high school classes to tell this story.

I am hopeful that we can get Buster to come to our high school for the  liberator-survivor reunion in September.

It was twenty five years ago, on this anniversary, that I wrote an essay in the local newspaper expressing my appreciation for the veterans of World War II. And as I begin to sort through and pack up 20+ years of memories in this room, three things are becoming clear: 1) my love for these men and women and what they did only increases as time passes; 2) the rest of my career will be focused on the promotion of narrative history in the classroom, linking students, veterans and survivors together; and 3) I won’t be getting any packing done this day.

Take a minute to watch Buster in the clip and take his optimism about the future of our nation to heart. Especially if -“you’re an American.”

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By OMAR RICARDO AQUIJE- Glens Falls Post Star

HUDSON FALLS —Fred Spiegel was asked if he felt resentment toward the Nazis.

“Yes, to the Nazis, but not the Germans,” Spiegel said.

The question came from a student at Hudson Falls High School, at which Spiegel was invited Friday to discuss his life during the Holocaust.

On April 13, 1945, a train traveled across Germany, carrying 2,500 Jews en route to a concentration camp.

Spiegel was among them. He was 13.

Holocaust survivor Fred Spiegel sells and autographs copies of his book, "Once the Acacias Bloomed," for students at Hudson Falls High School on Friday, May 24. Spiegel, who was liberated by U.S. troops as a young boy during World War II, spoke about his experiences and answered students' questions. (Jason McKibben -

Holocaust survivor Fred Spiegel sells and autographs copies of his book, “Once the Acacias Bloomed,” for students at Hudson Falls High School on Friday, May 24. Spiegel, who was liberated by U.S. troops as a young boy during World War II, spoke about his experiences and answered students’ questions. (Jason McKibben –

Spiegel, 81, visits schools to talk about how he survived. He brings copies of his book, “Once The Acacias Bloomed,” which explains his life as a Nazi prisoner.

Most of the schools he visits are in New Jersey, where he lives. The farthest he travels is Hudson Falls, a school he visited a few times in recent years, a school he included in his book because it was here an important moment in his life occurred.

“They invited me,” Spiegel said of his reason for returning to Hudson Falls. “How can I say no?”

During Friday’s presentation, Spiegel often said he was lucky to be alive.

Other trains carrying Jewish prisoners made it to their destination. His did not.

His train suddenly stopped near Magdeburg. Spiegel said the train’s engineer and Nazi soldiers fled for fear of capture. U.S. troops was cutting across Germany.

Then, a few U.S. soldiers on tanks found the train and freed the captives. The soldiers included Carroll Walsh, of the 743rd Tank Battalion.

Spiegel was later reunited with his family. It was 65 years later when the unexpected happened: He was invited to Hudson Falls to meet others who were prisoners on the train.

He also got to meet some of the liberators, including Walsh, who was living in Hudson Falls at the time.

Matt Rozell, a Hudson Falls history teacher, organized the reunion. He met Walsh in 2001. He interviewed the former soldier, and learned about the train near Magdeburg.

Walsh died in December. He was 91 and a former state judge.

Spiegel, a native of Germany, said people have shown more interest in the Holocaust over the years.

During Friday’s visit to Hudson Falls, he spoke to about 30 sophomores. Some of them had copies of Spiegel’s book. Others bought the book after the presentation.

Armand Ryther, a student, approached Spiegel to shake his hand.

“I find it very interesting that he could survive what he did,” Ryther said.

Ryther said he read Spiegel’s book.

Jamie Hughes, a fellow sophomore, said it was interesting to hear about Spiegel’s experiences.

“I think it’s really amazing that he would want to share his experiences with everybody,” she said.

Tara Sano, a Hudson Falls history teacher, said the event was planned near Memorial Day so students can reflect on the efforts of veterans.

“My hope is that when you are taking your three-day weekend, you think about why you have a three-day weekend,” she told students at the start of the presentation.

http://poststar.com/news/local/article_00a9219c-c648-11e2-ae69-001a4bcf887a.html

See Fred meet his liberator for the first time.

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Two Toronto Holocaust survivors meet their liberators 65 years later
Two survivors of a death train out of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp finally link up with American soldiers who freed them in 1945.

A WWII-era booklet still possessed by Leslie Meisels documents his liberation as a young boy from a train destined for a death camp. Meisels, who eventually ended in Toronto, met a few of the surviving soldiers who freed him and 2,500 prisoners on the train.

A WWII-era booklet still possessed by Leslie Meisels documents his liberation as a young boy from a train destined for a death camp. Meisels, who eventually ended in Toronto, met a few of the surviving soldiers who freed him and 2,500 prisoners on the train.

Leslie Meisels is 86.

Leslie Meisels turned 68 last month.

Every April, since he was 18, Meisels has celebrated his rebirth. Sixty-eight years ago he was on the cusp of death, packed into a cattle car in a freight train with some 2,500 other skeletal Jewish prisoners. He weighed only 75 pounds.

Then a miracle. That train, which had set off from a concentration camp, was liberated by 12 shocked American soldiers in two tanks and an army jeep near Farsleben, Germany.

Up until then, the American GIs had assumed the gruesome stories they had heard about German death camps were just Allied propaganda devised to make them fight harder. But as they unlocked the boxcar doors, they witnessed humanity’s true capacity for evil.

They called it the death train. For Meisels, it was a train of life.

This past week marked the 68th anniversary of V-E Day, the end of the Second World War in Europe. It’s a good moment to tell the story of that train from Bergen-Belsen.

I heard about it last month in an email from a history teacher in upstate New York. He put me in touch with Meisels and Paul Arato: two Holocaust survivors from Hungary who in 1956 escaped their homeland, by then under Communist rule, and settled in North York.

Their stories are remarkably parallel. They grew up in nearby towns in eastern Hungary, they were both imprisoned by the Nazis in 1944, and they were sent first to Austrian farms as slave labourers and then to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in northern Germany.

Have you ever seen the horrifying Holocaust photos of dead, naked bodies being pushed by a bulldozer into open pits? That was Bergen-Belsen. Some 70,000 people were murdered there, including Anne Frank. They weren’t killed in gas chambers, like at Auschwitz. Instead the Nazis used starvation, sadism and disease here.

Meisels remembers mostly the hunger. They were given only watery turnip soup and a piece of bread each day. In four months, he lost 100 pounds.

Arato, just 6 then, remembers the rattling cold and twice-daily roll calls that often lasted hours. He and his older brother Oscar had to hold their mother upright, she was so weak from typhus. One day a boy in their line smiled because it was his birthday. As his “present,” an SS guard shot him dead. It was Oscar’s birthday the next day.

The horror is ungraspable.

By April 1945, the Nazis were retreating as both the Allied and Soviet armies advanced. One morning, both Meisels and Arato were awakened by guards and told to march. “We dragged our bodies over five kilometres,” says Meisels, “back to the train.”

Trains in Nazi Germany usually led to death. This one was no different. It was destined for another concentration camp in Czechoslovakia, but the guards also had orders to execute passengers. Meisels remembers one afternoon when all males 12 and older were ordered out of the packed boxcars and lined up in front of machine guns. They stood there two hours before being herded back into the putrid cars.

Over six days, the train progressed only 135 kilometres.

Arato remembers peering through between the wooden boxcar slats and seeing the SS guards drop their weapons and start running. Then he glimpsed a tank with a star on it.

The door slid open shortly and they were greeted by stunned American soldiers.

“It was hard for us to believe what we were actually seeing,” says one of those soldiers, Frank Towers, on the phone from Brooker, Fla. “We weren’t prepared for it. We were there to fight a war. We weren’t humanitarians. We didn’t know what to do.”

Says Meisels: “We cried, ‘Oh God, we are going to be free. We are going to be human beings again.’ ”

Towers, who was serving in the 30th Infantry Division, spent a day those taken off the train to convalescence homes and a hospital nearby before he had to push on with his battalion.

Meisels and Arato spent five months recovering in Germany before they could finally return to Hungary to search for the rest of their families. Eleven years later, they escaped Hungary and started their lives for a second time: getting married, building careers, having children, then grandchildren. Decades went by.

Then, a few years ago, their paths crossed at a business meeting. Arato, since retired, was an industrial designer. Meisels ran a family company making plastic moulds. At the end of the meeting, the topic of the Holocaust was raised. They discovered, to their shock, they had both been on that train from Bergen-Belsen.

Around the same time, that high school history teacher in New York named Matt Rozell stumbled upon the story.

To bring Second World War history alive, he’d instructed his Grade 10 students to interview their grandparents about the war. One summer, he visited one of his students’ grandfather: Carrol Walsh, a veteran turned New York State Supreme Court judge.

“After two hours, when the interview was ending, his daughter elbowed him and told him to tell me about the train,” Rozell says.

He learned Walsh had been in one of those tanks that chased away the SS soldiers and liberated the train.

Rozell posted the story on his website, Teaching History Matters, and a few years later a survivor from that train contacted him from Australia. Since then, 240 more have been located.

In 2007, Rozell hosted his first symposium on the train, bringing together survivors and liberators. Arato’s son came across a story about the reunion on the Internet by chance.

Arato told Meisels about it, and two years later they both traveled down to Hudson Falls, N.Y., for the second symposium. There they met Walsh and Towers.

That moment was a second liberation for Arato, now 74.

“A blanket was pulled from me,” he says. “I was always very lonesome. I didn’t share my stories with anybody. I grew up and spent all my years being angry. This meant I don’t have to be angry anymore.”

His wife, Rona, has just published a book about his story called The Last Train: A Holocaust Story.

Meisels visits schools around Toronto to speak about the Holocaust every week.

His message? “Hatred is something we have to fight against. When you hear a derogatory comment, say out loud that it is not right. When you are silent, you are not neutral. You are supporting the oppressor.”

He and Towers went to Washington, D.C. last month to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Holocaust Museum there. Towers, now 96, is the last living U.S. veteran who liberated that train. Walsh died last December.

“We hugged,” Meisels says. “Whenever we are together, I am so overwhelmed by gratitude and joy.”

Truth can be more horrifying and wonderful than fiction. Every life is precious.

CLICK HERE FOR THE STORY OF ANOTHER TORONTO RESIDENT WHO FOUND HERSELF IN THE 1945 PHOTOGRAPHS

 

by Catherine Porter 

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/05/10/two_toronto_holocaust_survivors_meet_their_liberators_65_years_later_porter.html

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I don’t know Leo but when I saw the headline I thought they were writing about my friends on this site. God Bless, Mr. Hymas.
By Julie Muhlstein, Herald Columnist

Students crowded around the speaker as his talk ended at Everett Community College. They lingered, asking if they could take pictures and posing with him to capture the moment.tudents crowded around the speaker as his talk ended at Everett Community College. They lingered, asking if they could take pictures and posing with him to capture the moment.

Leo Hymas is no hip-hop artist or reality TV star. At 87, the U.S. Army veteran is a keeper of history and a bearer of truth.

“Those who say it didn’t happen are wrong,” said Hymas, who spoke Wednesday as part of the college’s Holocaust Survivor Forums.

He lives on Whidbey Island with his wife, Amy, and is a speaker with the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center.

His audience was rapt, hanging on every word, as Hymas shared memories with Joyce Walker’s Humanities 150D class. This is the 14th year Walker has presented the Holocaust series, which is open to the public. Most speakers have been Holocaust survivors, or lost ancestors during Nazi Germany’s systematic murder of 6 million Jews.

Hymas is not Jewish. His Holocaust story is from the point of view of an American soldier during World War II, a 19-year-old fresh off his family’s Utah dairy farm.

He was with the 97th Infantry Division, H Company, part of Gen. George Patton’s Third Army. In the spring of 1945, they marched through a nearly defeated Germany. “We fought our way across Germany, village to village — sometimes man to man,” Hymas said.

They were preparing to attack Weimar, a picturesque German town, when they came upon a wire enclosure. Hymas recalls the fence, topped by barbed wire mounted on electric insulators. There was a brick building with a tall chimney, and a guard tower. The guards were gone.

The place was Buchenwald, a concentration camp near Weimar. What the liberation forces found there is seared in Hymas’ memory.

“I have seen hundreds and hundreds of naked, rotting bodies stacked like cord wood,” he said. “The smell, I cannot describe. It was burning human flesh.”

There was no fighting. “Suddenly, our fighting force became a humanitarian force,” Hymas said. “You’ve seen the pictures. The people were so emaciated, just skin and bones.

“An order came to touch nothing, but help if you can,” he said. Three generals came to the death camp with their staffs — Dwight Eisenhower, Omar Bradley and Patton. Hymas said troops had nicknamed Patton “Old Blood and Guts — his guts, our blood.”

From camp survivors, Hymas heard horror stories of torture, of subsisting on a half-cup of turnip soup mixed with sawdust each day, and of dogs trained to go for the throat.

The Allied forces made townspeople from Weimar carry bodies from the camp to a common grave. “They told us, ‘I’m not a Nazi,'” Hymas said.

Kathleen Bergin is the speakers bureau coordinator for the Seattle-based Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center. While most speakers are Jewish, she said, “Leo offers another perspective. He is one of our most prolific speakers.”

He also is among a dwindling number of people still alive to tell what they saw of the Holocaust firsthand.

“The survivors are elderly, and the liberators tend to be even more so,” Bergin said. “We do have videotaped accounts, but a big part of Holocaust education is preparing for when there aren’t survivors. We have to make this real to kids. When there’s not proof of it standing right in front of them, it’s a challenge.”

Hymas was awarded a Bronze Star Medal for valor. He said he helped capture 91 Germans, “most sent to Nuremberg for war crimes.”

Near the end of his talk, he asked for volunteers. Audience members Terry Myer and Cory Palmieri came forward. First, they held up a Nazi banner, bright red with a huge swastika on it.

“It’s a symbol of the worst evil we have record of,” Hymas said, then asked the volunteers to “wad it up and throw it on the floor.” They then held up a 48-star American flag, “the flag I fought for, and my dear friends died for,” Hymas said. “I hope you love and respect it.”

Retired from an aerospace industry career, he makes time to tell as many people as he can about what hate can do.

“I know what I saw. I am a witness. Now that I have told you, you are witnesses, too,” he told the students. “I’m hoping to influence people like you, so that it can never, ever happen again.”

http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20130510/NEWS01/705109903/1056/comm0615

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  Monday, April 29, 2013
Frank this morning at the Museum - P. Fredlake

Frank this morning at the Museum – P. Fredlake

Today is the anniversary of the liberation of Dachau. I also got this photo from Peter Fredlake, the director of National Outreach for Teacher Initiatives at the USHMM which he took this morning in Washington.  Big day for Frank!

WASHINGTON (AP) — Elderly survivors of the Holocaust and the veterans who helped liberate them are gathering for what could be their last big reunion at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Some 1,000 survivors and World War II vets are coming together with President Bill Clinton and Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust activist and writer, on Monday when the museum marks its 20th anniversary. Organizers chose not to wait for the 25th milestone because many survivors and vets may not be alive in another five years.

Clinton and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wiesel, who both dedicated the museum at its opening in 1993, will deliver keynote speeches. On Sunday night, the museum presented its highest honor to World War II veterans who ended the Holocaust. Susan Eisenhower accepted the award on behalf of her grandfather, U.S. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, and all veterans of the era.

The museum also launched a campaign to raise $540 million by 2018 to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive and to combat anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial and contemporary genocide. It has already secured gifts totaling $258.7 million. The campaign will double the size of the museum’s endowment by its 25th anniversary. Also, a $15 million gift from Holocaust survivors David and Fela Shapell will help build a new Collections and Conservation Center.

Museum Director Sara Bloomfield said organizers wanted to show Holocaust survivors, veterans and rescuers the effort will continue to honor the memory of 6 million murdered Jews, in part by saving lives and preventing genocide in the future.

“We felt it was important, while that generation is still with us in fairly substantial numbers, to bring them together,” Bloomfield said, “to not only honor them, but in their presence make a commitment to them that not only this institution but the people we reach will carry forward this legacy.”

The museum continues collecting objects, photographs and other evidence of the Holocaust from survivors, veterans and archives located as far away as China and Argentina. Curators expect the collection to double in size over the next decade.

This week, the museum is opening a special, long-term exhibit titled “Some Were Neighbors: Collaboration and Complicity During the Holocaust.” It includes interviews with perpetrators that have never been shown before, as well as details of mass killings in the former Soviet Union that were only uncovered in more recent years.

Curator Susan Bachrach said the exhibit and its research challenge the idea that the Holocaust was primarily about Hitler and other Nazi leaders. Surveys at the museum show that’s what most visitors believe.

“That’s very comforting to people, because it puts distance between the visitors and who was involved,” Bachrach said.

So, the museum set out to look at ordinary people who looked on and were complicit in the killing and persecution of millions of Jews through greed, a desire for career advancement, peer pressure or other factors. It examines influences “beyond hatred and anti-Semitism,” Bachrach said.

Focusing only on fanatical Nazis would be a serious misunderstanding of the Holocaust, Bloomfield said.

“The Holocaust wouldn’t have been possible, first of all, without enormous indifference throughout Germany and German-occupied Europe, but also thousands of people who were, say, just doing their jobs,” she said, such as a tax official who collected special taxes levied against Jews.

In an opening film, some survivors recall being turned over to Nazi authorities in front of witnesses who did nothing. “The whole town was assembled … looking at the Jews leaving,” one survivor recalls.

Steven Fenves was a boy at the time. He recalled how in 1944, Hungary, allied with Nazi Germany, forced his family out of their apartment. The family was deported to Auschwitz, where Fenves’ mother was gassed.

“One of the nastiest memories I have is going on that journey and people were lined up, up the stairs, up to the door of the apartment, waiting to ransack whatever we left behind, cursing at us, yelling at us, spitting at us as we left,” he said in an interview with the museum.

The museum located images of bystanders looking on as Jews were detained, humiliated and taken away.

Non-Jews were also punished for violating German policies against the mixing of ethnic groups. For the first time, the museum is showing striking, rare footage of a ritualistic shaming of a Polish girl and a German boy for having a relationship. They are marched through the streets of a town in Poland, where the film was located in an attic. Dozens of people look on as Nazi officers cut the hair of the two teenagers. They are forced to look at their nearly bald heads in a mirror before their hair is burned.

“It’s hard not to focus on the cruelty that’s being perpetrated on this young couple,” Bachrach said. “But what we really want people to look at … is all the other people who are standing around watching this.”

Other items displayed include dozens of bullets excavated from the site of a mass grave in former Soviet territory and registration cards from city offices in Western and Southern Europe labeling people with a “J” for Jew.

The federally funded museum’s theme for its 20th anniversary is “Never Again: What You Do Matters.” The museum devotes part of its work and research to stopping current and preventing future genocides. A study released by the museum last month found that the longer the current conflict in Syria continues, the greater the danger that mass sectarian violence results in genocide.

Much more is still being learned about the Holocaust, as well, Bloomfield said. The museum is compiling an encyclopedia of all incarceration sites throughout Europe. When the project began, scholars expected to list 10,000 such sites. Now the number stands at 42,000.

The museum opened in 1993 as a living memorial to the Holocaust to inspire people worldwide to prevent genocide. A presidential commission called for such a museum in 1979. Since opening, it has counted more than 30 million visitors. The museum also provides resources for survivors. It has partnered with Ancestry.com to begin making the museum’s 170 million documents searchable online through the World Memory Project.

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As the museum turns 20, officials understand that the demise of those who survived the prison camps as children means looking backward in a different way.

30th ID Colors, Capitol Rotunda, April 11, 2013

30th ID Colors, Capitol Rotunda, April 11, 2013

Tonight is the Nation Tribute Dinner. Frank, Leslie and Elisabeth are there- two survivors and their actual liberator. Tomorrow they get interviewed near the 30th Infantry Division Flag, recently installed in the main foyer of the Museum as a liberating division. About time. I nearly cried when I saw it paraded into the Capitol Rotunda for the Days of Remembrance  commemoration this year. First time! I really think the project helped get the 30th on the recognition radar screen…here is a good article, found on USA Today.

WASHINGTON — The adult survivors of the Holocaust are mostly gone now, and those who survived as children — and were old enough at the time to remember their ordeals — are now in their 70s and 80s.

It won’t be long before no eyewitnesses remain.

That’s why, as the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum marks its 20th anniversary Monday with more than 750 survivors, museum officials are calling it one of the last large gatherings of those who managed to escape Hitler’s death machine.

For those who have dedicated themselves to teaching future generations about the Holocaust and its victims, the demise of the survivors means looking backward in a different way — a way that no longer includes people looking others straight in the face and recounting what they saw and what they lived.

You can read all the documentation of the Holocaust in the world, said Diane Saltzman, director of survivor affairs at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, “but hearing somebody’s voice, sitting across the table or across the room from a human being, there’s no true substitute.”

Jonathan Sarna, professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University, wants his classes to understand this.

“I tell my students annually that they have a special responsibility,” he said. “They are the last generation that will be able to say that they personally knew survivors of the Holocaust. It is a big change, just like it was when the last Civil War veteran passed from the scene.”

The Holocaust, now “perceived history,” will become “received” history, Sarna said. The challenge is that it doesn’t recede from memory.

Holocaust educators take heart in the many institutions and younger people committed to ensuring that future generations will know about the 6 million Jews who died; of the concentration camps, gas chambers and crematoria set up to carry out Hitler’s “Final Solution”; and of the 5 million Roma (Gypsies), gay people and others murdered because the Nazis deemed them, like the Jews, unworthy of life.

That’s the mission of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, said Saltzman, which has hosted some 35 million visitors since it opened just off the National Mall in 1993. The institution is full of audio and video testimony from survivors, artifacts from their lives before and after they were sent to concentration camps, and films and diaries that document the genocide.

“The museum stands as that eyewitness going forward,” Saltzman said. “We are the repository of all that evidence, and all of those memories.”

From the Washington museum to Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem to smaller museums around the world, these institutions preserve history that will soon no longer be passed on firsthand. So, too, does Holocaust literature, from Anne Frank’s famous diary to Night, by survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, who will give the keynote speech at the Washington museum’s anniversary Monday, alongside former president Bill Clinton.

The Shoah Foundation, based at the University of Southern California, has videotaped testimony from more than 51,000 survivors since film director Steven Spielberg started the project in 1994, when there were about 350,000 Holocaust survivors worldwide.

Curriculum programs in schools introduce children in the U.S. and elsewhere to the Holocaust, and these programs will continue, even when survivors aren’t part of them anymore.

Norman Frajman, 83, thinks of that day. He was 10 years old when World War II began, and has sharp memories of life in the Warsaw Ghetto and of the Majdanek death camp in eastern Poland, where his mother and younger sister died. All told, he lost 126 members of his immediate and extended family.

“I probably wouldn’t remember what I had for breakfast, but I remember all that happened to me during the carnage,” said Frajman, who now lives in Boynton Beach, Fla., and has been sharing his testimony with schoolchildren for more than 30 years.

But not with young children. “The atrocities are indescribable. I can’t address anyone at the elementary school level,” he said. “It’s too graphic.”

For all the graphic details available from survivors, and primary and secondary texts and film, Holocaust denial still thrives on the Internet and in many parts of the world where anti-Semitism has strong roots.

Even in the presence of Holocaust survivors, there are people who insist the genocide never happened, Sarna said. The hope, when there are no more survivors, is that the museums and the video archives will make it “impossible for most people to accept the word of the deniers.”

In the meantime, as long as he is able, Frajman will tell his story and teach about the Holocaust in hopes of preventing another one. “Yesterday it was directed against the Jews. Tomorrow it could be against Christians, the next day against Muslims — unless people heed and listen,” he said.

But he is optimistic that his words and those of other survivors will resonate long after he is gone.

“Judging by today’s young people that I encounter when I go to schools to speak, we are in for a better tomorrow,” Frajman said. “They listen. They are very perceptive. They take it to heart.”

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