The Holocaust is one of the greatest crimes ever perpetrated in history. Today, 70 years after this terrible atrocity, there are still survivors alive to tell the story. This allows people living generations later, to hear about the Holocaust firsthand. Pirates for Israel, a CAMERA-supported group at East Carolina University, co-hosted a talk by Sami Steigmann, a Holocaust survivor this past November. It was attended by over five hundred people, in an arena full of students, faculty members, and members of the wider community.

Sami Steigman in East Carolina

Sami was born in Romania in 1939, and as a baby was taken to a labour camp in Ukraine. There, he was subjected to brutal medical experiments, and he was left to die. He was saved only by the kindness of a German woman, who smuggled him food at risk of her own life. For decades after the war, Sami never told his story. It was only in 2003, when he met another child who had been experimented on in the same camp as him, that he found he was able to talk about his experiences, and he told his story for the first time in 2008. One girl wrote to him, telling him that she was going to pass on his story to her grandchildren – and from that moment on, he has dedicated his life to telling young people his story.

The talk was entitled “Life, Faith and Hope,” and Sami did not just tell his story, but also shared life lessons with his audience. He encourages people to never be bystanders, but to be part of the solution. Sami says that we should forgive, but not forget. He is also overwhelmingly positive – no matter how bad today was, he says, tomorrow is a new day. For many of the students, it was their first time ever meeting a Holocaust survivor – and it surely will have been an unforgettable experience for them. Through events like these, we honor our commitment to make sure that such terrible crimes never happen again.

Contributed by Aron White, CAMERA intern

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