Wednesday, April 11, 2018

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Holocaust survivor details harrowing plight in concentration camps

Lazan

POUGHKEEPSIE – Marist College held its 28th Annual Holocaust Remembrance Tuesday night and author and Holocaust survivor Marion Blumenthal Lazan was the guest speaker.

Before going on stage to speak in front of a large crowd, Lazan brought up how her speech is designed to motivate this generation to pass on her legacy and the legacy of fellow survivors in these divisive political times.

“It is so very important that today’s generation hears this now while there is still time,” she said. “This is the last generation that will hear these stories firsthand and they need to hear the stories from this dark period in history.”

Lazan said concentration camp victims had nothing to lose so many tried to escape.

“The failure of their attempts were obvious when we saw their lifeless bodies hanging electrocuted against the barbed wire,” she told the audience. “Malnutrition, dysentery, and the loss of the will to go on is what destroyed body and mind. Death was an every day occurrence. The dark, crowded quarters often causes us to trip and fall over the dead. Bodies could not be taken fast enough. We, as children, saw things that no one, no matter what the age should ever have to see.”

Lazan detailed her harrowing plight living in the concentration camps with her family, which led to an escape in Holland and an eventual permanent move to the United States. She was exhausted by the time she escaped but has vivid memories of her first taste of freedom.


“The weather was beautiful, sunny and bright; trees and grass were lush and green; flowers were in bloom; birds were singing,” she said. “It was wonderful to be free long at last.”

In the U.S., Lazan studied hard and learned English to graduate eighth out of 267 students in her high school class in Peoria, Illinois. Before settling in the small town, Lazan initially felt like an outsider again.

“I had never heard of Illinois, let alone of Peoria,” she said. “I had once again become a stranger in a strange land and had to learn a new language.”

Marist President David Yellen and students Abigail Rogers and Sarabeth Turner introduced Lazan. Yellen expressed compassion for her journey.

“Every Holocaust survivor has its own story,” said Yellen. “None of us can imagine the fortitude with which it takes to survive and thrive.”

A Q&A session followed Lazan’s speech along with a signing of copies of her book, Four Perfect Pebbles, which was written with the help of the late children’s book author Lila Perl. The book is celebrating its 22nd anniversary in print and has been released in several languages.

 


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