MIAMI (WSVN) - A group of high school students spent their afternoon listening to emotional stories from the Holocaust, including a harrowing account from South Florida’s oldest Holocaust survivor.
Their meeting with 96-year-old Julius Eisenstein came before their trip overseas to see the Nazi death camps in person.”Make sure you don’t let anybody tell you that the Holocaust never happened,” said Eisenstein.
Eisenstein is South Florida’s oldest Holocaust survivor. He spent time at the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, Sunday, talking to high school seniors scheduled to visit Europe.
These were places where Eisenstein and millions like him lost their families and friends. The 96-year-old said anybody who was Jewish in the street would face this torture.
“They put them on the side of the road and they had a few Germans with machine guns,” said Eisenstein. “They just mowed them down.”
The group of students he addressed is part of a program called March of the Living, where thousands of teens from around the world travel to Poland and Israel in April.
They visit memorials and pay tribute at landmarks that left an imprint in Jewish men, women and children.
Marissa Weiner, a student in the group, said this is a way to grow closer to her family’s history. “To connect to my history and heritage and better understand Judaism from a historical perspective,” she said.
This South Florida group is the program’s second largest delegation from the United States. Eisenstein is expected to be with them as he returns to the concentration camps.
Another student wanted to know what kept him going through the dark reality of losing his family. “When you are down, there’s only one way to go, and that’s up,” said Eisenstein. “You don’t know how good you have it here. You should appreciate every minute being an American citizen.”
Eisenstein said he feels obliged to speak to the students. “My philosophy is I have to talk to those kids,” he said. “I have to explain to them I was there. I suffered. I lost my whole family. That should not happen again.”
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