Business Insider recently published an article on their website about a 92-year-old Holocaust survivor who shared his story via Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything). Henry Flescher, originally from Vienna, enlisted his grandson to help him share his story of survival during the Holocaust. Participants were able to ask Mr. Flescher any questions they had about his harrowing experiences in multiple concentration camps during World War II. Here are some excerpts from his Reddit AMA:
I was first sent to Drancy, a transit camp. I was then transported in a cattle car packed with people with no food or water and one bucket in the middle to use as a toilet. I was 18 at the time. The smell was unfathomable. After six days in the train, the train came to a stop. The guards started to count men. They selected 300 men. I was number 278. We were taken off the train. The train then continued on its way to Auschwitz and everyone was killed.
I will never forget the number 298.
When asked about being liberated, Mr. Flescher replied: I didn't know. I didn't understand. I was on another death march at the time from Altenburg to Waldenburg. I managed to slip away and hide in a chicken coop along the way and at that time the American convoy was advancing. I saw an American tank and an American soldier and thought he was going to kill me because I didn't know the uniform. I still left the coop and went up to them, because at that time I could barely stand up and weighed about 70 pounds. I didn't know that day would come. I was very sick when I was liberated and could barely eat, talk, or walk.
I have two birthdays. March 14th, and April 11th.
Everyday you think of living. We are born to die, but I appreciate life. We live day by day, and I always say: yesterday is history, today's reality, and tomorrow's a dream.
Flescher decided to participate in the Reddit AMA because he strongly believes in the necessity of preserving the legacy of those who perished by sharing the true stories of the unspeakable horrors that took place during the Holocaust. He concluded by stating:
They need to tell story as it is. You cannot shy away from history and its brutality. We usually learn about history through books, but this is an event that happened in my lifetime. I witnessed it, and I am still alive today to discuss it. Soon, there will not be any survivors left. I am 92. Once all the survivors are gone, the skeptics will probably come into the picture unfortunately. And that is why we need to educate everyone about what really happened. It didn't happen 500 years ago. It happened in my lifetime.
In November 2016, The Holocaust Educational Foundation of Northwestern University and Claremont McKenna College are co-sponsoring a conference entitled, "The Holocaust in the 21st Century: Relevance and Challenges in the Digital Age." MIMEH will be presenting a workshop focused on our efforts to use a digital platform to transcend global boundaries within Holocaust education. When we founded MIMEH, our goal was to find a way to utilize modern society's reliance on web-based informational sources to educate a wide range of people about the abrogation of bioethics that occurred during the Holocaust and its relevance for current and future generations. Our webinars are offered live for those who want to actively participate and ask questions of the presenters. However, we realize that some people's schedules or geographic locations prohibit attending the live webinars, so we offer our webinars on demand as well. People in any country can sign on to their computer or mobile device at any time of day or night, any day of the week, 365 days of the year and view our programs. Physicians, nurses and pharmacists can earn CME credits for this as well. This is our way of acknowledging that the advent of the digital age has drastically changed the ways in which people get their information. By offering flexible, online programming, MIMEH hopes to play a role in meeting the challenges of the digital age for Holocaust education.
That being said, perhaps the best way to utilize the digital age to help promote an understanding of what took place during the Holocaust and its ramifications for modern life is by providing a platform for people like Henry Flescher to share their stories. Sadly, the number of Holocaust survivors continues to dwindle. However, recounting Mr. Flescher's tale of survival and hope in the face of the greatest evil through digital platforms is an eternal gift because it ensures that the stories and lessons learned from the horrors of the Holocaust will forever be preserved in the Digital Age and beyond. #NeverForget
"A Holocaust survivor shares how he survived multiple concentration camps and death marches in a heartbreaking Reddit AMA" by Jeremy Bender 4/14/16