Education no indication of humanity – Holocaust survivor

2016-05-05 20:30


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Johannesburg – Education is no indication of a person’s humanity, a Holocoaust survivor told the Jewish community at an event in which the six million Jews who lost their lives in the genocide were honoured.

Hungarian Veronica Phillips, one of the few living survivors of the Holocaust, told her tragic story at the Martyr’s Monument at West Park Cemetery in Johannesburg on Thursday.

Phillips recalled for eager listeners the traumatic experiences she went through as a child more than 70 years ago.

She felt strongly that education was no indication of a person's humanity. She said many of those who did the killing during the genocide were graduates who also did well at school.

“I’ve always been sceptic of schools. Maths and other school subjects are only important if they serve to make our children more human.”

Nazi train to Ravensbruck

She said that she went to a non-Jewish school in Hungary and always did well on her tests, but because she was Jewish, she was not given all As.

She said that learners who did well would have their names printed in block letters in the yearbook, but because of her background, she was not allowed to have her name printed.

“I can still feel and smell how they took us on the Nazi train from Budapest to Ravensbruck concentration camp. We were overcrowded and had no room to sit or lie. No food, no water and no toilets. We slept against one another in an upright position.”

She was just about to enter the gas chamber when something happened that saved her life, she said.

Saved by work at factory

“They made us march to the gas chamber. The smell of burnt bodies that was lingering in the air...

“We were about to enter the gas chambers when a call came for 140 women... [who were] needed to work at an airplane factory. I was one of the lucky ones chosen because I spoke German.”

According to Phillips, she and her cousin travelled on top of an oil tanker to Hungary where she was recognised by a woman.

“She told me that my mother and brother had survived.

“I am a survivor and saw things that no man should ever see... I saw infants killed by trained nurses. I saw women and children shot and killed by high school graduates.”

As a woman forever scarred by what transpired during WWII she said she had had eight miscarriages and lost a big part of her family, but she continued to tell her story and give hope to others.

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