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SA Holocaust Museum Observes 75th Anniversary of Auschwitz Liberation Through Education

This Monday marks 75 years since the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviet army. The Holocaust Memorial Museum of San Antonio has developed four days of special programs, including lectures from survivors or children of survivors in observation of Texas Holocaust Remembrance Week. 

One of the lecturers is Auschwitz survivor Rose Williams, who was 12 years old when she was sent to the camp. Now 92, Williams shares her story of beatings and starvation and despicable conditions with visiting school groups.

“That’s the reason why I survived to now be able to inform the children how very important it is to remember what happened to me,” Williams said.

Poland-born Williams struggled to survive in the camp for five years, and when the camp was liberated, the 17-year-old weighed only 87 pounds. 

On Monday, the students visiting from Crestmont Christian Preparatory School in Boerne attended Williams’s lecture, and when she showed them her inmate ID tattooed on her arm, the group sat up. Their teacher, Maureen Arnold, said she brings her students every year.

“The first time I ever did it, I had students tell me it was life-changing. I had students that were in tears,” Arnold said.

Student Elise Webb says Williams’s story took the class back in time.

“When you get to hear other people’s life story. You get to really know what history was like,” Webb said.

Julie Tzucker, the education coordinator of the museum, said it’s important to remember the Holocaust so it is not repeated. She said vigilance of world events is key because the Holocaust and the deaths of millions of Jews and others unfolded slowly.

“This happened day by day, step by step, through legislation, through censorship, through relocation of people, dehumanization.” 

Tzucker estimates that the San Antonio Jewish community is about 10,000 people. 

“We not only remember them, but we want to give children of today an opportunity to be upstanders and prevent genocide. That’s the real main reason we teach this… is even though genocides have occurred since, Hitler did not invent genocide, and it has happened since.”

Lectures will run 1–3 p.m. through Thursday. Classes that can’t make it to the museum can watch Tuesday’s presentation on Facebook Live. Monday’s presentation will also be made available through the museum’s website and social media channels.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly named the museum. It is the Holocaust Memorial Museum of San Antonio.

Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at Brian@TPR.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian.