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We now live in another era of "fake news," where the truth is often turned upside down – and the ramifications are severe. Driven by public spread of misinformation and disinformation, antisemitism is surging globally. Perpetrators are imprinting swastikas in lawns, chanting "Jews will not replace us" during marches and committing violence. These incidents are eerily similar to some events in 1930s Nazi Germany. Meanwhile, millions deny the Holocaust ever happened or know little about it. ,
That's why on this International Holocaust Remembrance Day, it is essential to educate the public about the atrocities committed only about 80 years ago. One way is to visit a memorial or display, such as an exhibit about the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz in occupied Poland, which debuts at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in March. ,
Many of the prisoners that survived the camps went on to live fulfilling lives, despite the trauma and hardship they endured. One of them was my grandfather, Benjamin Samuelson, who survived multiple camps after being taken from his home in Romania at age 14. His fight exemplifies how human will and hope can help one persevere through unimaginable horrors. ,
He himself narrowly evaded death, and likely would have been among the over 6 million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, if not for an especially remarkable escape. At Auschwitz in 1944, he was assigned to the Sonderkommandos, a unit responsible for working the gas chamber and crematorium. Few survived this group because the Nazis systematically executed them after 90 days of labor. ,
One day he was asked to dispose of clothing that belonged to murdered children. As he was tossing clothes into piles, it dawned on him: Either he would be killed in a few weeks regardless, or he could risk trying to escape and be killed that day if caught. The latter option offered a possible solution. So, he lay on top of the clothing, scarcely able to breathe, as others threw layers of items on top of him. ,
One night, he overheard soldiers say that prisoners would be transferred to another camp. When he heard trucks rumbling, he left his hiding place and joined a large group outside. Soldiers counted one more prisoner than they had expected – but could not identify the additional one. When their commander yelled at the soldiers for stalling, they loaded all the prisoners onto the trucks. ,
"Our most sacred task now is ensuring that the memory of this greatest of human tragedies, the Holocaust, never fades; that its lessons are not forgotten," as Reagan put it in a 1983 address to Jewish American survivors, "that its significance is not lost on this generation or any future generation." ,
In this time of distorted truth, it is important to ensure that younger generations know the real truth. As tragic as they can be, we must continue to share and consume Holocaust stories, lest the struggles of my grandfather, and millions of others, be forgotten. As the mantra concerning genocides goes: "never again." ,
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2023 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. Quotes displayed in real-time or delayed by at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Factset. Powered and implemented by FactSet Digital Solutions. Legal Statement. Mutual Fund and ETF data provided by Refinitiv Lipper.