By Shania Kuo
The Holocaust is one of the world’s darkest events in history as over six million people were killed in internment camps. As Silent Generation members continue to pass away, students at Oyster Bay High School had the remarkable opportunity, on October 24, 2017, to listen to a first-hand account of Holocaust survivor and author, Marion Blumenthal Lazan.
Born on December 20, 1934, Mrs. Lazan’s life was filled with hardships as she experienced the beginning of the anti-semitic movement in her hometown.
Mrs. Lazan described her experience as a young girl in Holland after she escaped from the Germans. After Holland’s invasion and the cold, cramped ride in the cattle cars, she found herself in one of Germany’s internment camps. With electric barbed wire fences looming over her, Mrs. Lazan dealt with the cramped, lice and disease-ridden conditions of the living quarters.
However, in these hard times, Mrs. Lazan created a game involving four pebbles representing her and her family. In her imagination, so long as she had these four pebbles, everyone would escape alive.
So how did she hold on to this hope? Mrs. Lazan stated, “I had to discard the negativity. It is not something everyone can do, especially with the bombardment of bad news and negativity surrounding social media. However, for that reason, we must come together and erase the negativity towards each other.”
While in the camp, Mrs. Lazan describes the first time she saw the naked bodies of the deceased carried off in a wagon by Nazis, and the first time she saw people hanging from the electrified fence in a desperate scramble to escape.
Although the Russian army liberated Mrs. Lazan, the hardships had yet to cease. Mrs. Lazan lost her father to typhus six weeks after liberation.
Mrs. Lazan needed to learn how to adapt to society, a difficult task as indicated by her memories of her poor table manners and unique appearance. Her difficulties adapting increased further as she traveled to New Jersey where she needed to learn English.
Mrs. Lazan’s harsh childhood led her to say, “People should not blindly forgive each other or we risk permitting another event like the Holocaust.”
Mrs. Lazan would later meet her future husband, Nathaniel, in Illinois and marry him upon graduating high school.
To end her presentation, Mrs. Lazan underscored the efforts of Germany to keep people aware of the Holocaust. In her words, “We cannot hate or blame a whole group of people for the actions of some.”
Mrs. Lazan pleaded with students to spread her story. As Holocaust survivors pass away, there are fewer people to share their stories with others. She urges students to tell the stories of the Holocaust in order to prevent future hateful atrocities.