South Florida students, Heat legend Ray Allen visit Auschwitz as world marks 75 years since liberation

(WSVN) - This Monday marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. A group of South Florida students recently traveled to the Nazi concentration camp, and joining them, some star power. Sports director Steve Shapiro has this special assignment report, Lesson of a Lifetime.

It was the biggest shot in Miami Heat history.

Mike Breen, ESPN play-by-play announcer (during 2013 NBA Finals, Game 6): “Back out to Allen, his three pointer — bang!”

That’s the Ray Allen you know.

This is the Ray Allen you probably do not.

A man with the spotlight of fame, using it to illuminate a dark time in world history.

Ray Allen, NBA Hall of Fame guard: “The first time I had seen ‘Schindler’s List’ it was 1993. I was in college, and when I walked out of there, you’re like, ‘You know, this is real.'”

The Holocaust.

The murder of six million Jews.

Nearly one million killed here at the Nazi’s Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and death camps in Poland.

Ray first traveled here in 2017 and wrote about his experience in an essay titled, “Why I Went to Auschwitz.”

Ray Allen: “You actually get transported to a place where people were killed, and you’re standing on this hallowed ground where it actually took place.”

Ray is on the board of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and recently, he returned to Europe.

This time with new friends.

Sofia Schlesinger, Ransom Everglades School student: “I just cannot believe that humans are really capable of something so awful.”

Angelo Berretta, Miami Beach Senior High School student: “It was mostly, like, hell. You’re in hell.”

Thirteen Miami-Dade high school students were part of a South Florida group participating in an educational program called “In Humanity’s Footsteps.”

Aley Sheer, trip organizer: “What we hope is that we will be able to take thousands of students to Poland.”

Others on the trip included Ray, his wife, Shannon, and their children, “The People’s Court” Judge Marilyn Milian and Holocaust survivor Sam Peltz.

Ray Allen: “It’s teaching young people how to have empathy for other people, not just people who look like you.”

What they saw on their five day trip: barracks, crematoriums and a gas chamber.

Sofia Schlesinger: “There were actually scratch marks on the ceilings of the gas chambers because people would pile up and people would try to climb up to the top to get out, but they couldn’t. All these rooms full of shoes — children’s shoes — from the victims, was really sad.”

Matthew Jimenez, Miami Beach Senior High School student: “Even if you’re not Jewish, you can’t just ignore something like this that happened.”

And they want to make sure it can never happen again as anti-Semitism in America reaches near historic levels, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

In 2018, a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue was the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.

A year earlier, this was the chant in Charlottesville, Virginia.

White supremacists chant, August 2017: “Jews will not replace us!”

But back in South Florida, these young people will now carry a different type of torch into the future.

One lit with love, empathy and a promise to never forget.

Sofia Schlesinger: “This isn’t Jewish history or Polish history or German history. It’s human history.”

In Humanity’s Footsteps:
ihfootsteps.org/

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
www.ushmm.org/

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