“For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.” Elie Wiesel

A step back in history

Holocaust survivor speaks about experiences

By Patrick Wolter, AHS Journalism Dept.
Published: Thursday, September 18, 2014 10:19 AM CDT

Photo by Algona Journalism Dept. Holocaust survivor Samuel Marder spoke to Algona High School students (above) on Monday, Sept. 8, as well as several other groups over the week, drawing a crowd of more than 200 to the Trinity Life Center on Tuesday, Sept. 9.

Few people have survived experiencing the evil in the world as intimately as World War II Holocaust survivor Samuel Marder.

A large audience listened intently during a public meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 9, at the Trinity Life Center in Algona while Marder spoke of his experiences in a concentration camp. He spoke and answered questions for one hour and visited at length with members of the audience after his presentation.

Marder was 10-years-old when he and his family were taken from their home in Romania to a concentration camp in Ukraine. His family and many others were rounded up and herded into cattle cars for part of their journey to the concentration camps.

Death was all around them and many died during the trip. Marder explained how soldiers would shoot people for no reason.

The camps such as Buchenwald or Auschwitz are well known. Few know of the smaller camps, where people were packed into buildings with no heat or glass in the windows and left to starve. This was the case for Samuel and his family. His father died quickly, and he and his sister were later separated from their mother.

After more than three years, when Marder’s only food was what he could scavenge from the fields and woods, and his only thought survival, he and his sister were freed by the defeat of the Nazis. They found their mother and made their way eventually to New York City, where Marder still lives and became a well-know violinist and concertmaster.

Marder also told his story to Algona High School students on Monday, Sept. 8, during an all-school assembly. He also had breakout sessions in Brian Connick’s history classes, where he spoke more in depth about his experiences and answered questions about the Holocaust.

He explained that he spoke to school groups to help avoid another atrocity. With there still being people who deny the Holocaust happened, Marder speaks to remind everyone of the past so as not to repeat it.

Marder believes that the most important task of his life is telling others of the tragedy of prejudice and the need for kindness. He says that being kind to others is the most important thing a person can do to make the world better, and encourages others to be tolerant and respectful to all who appear different than us.

He added that sharing his story has helped alleviate the nightmares that have plagued him his whole like.

Marder also spoke with students at Bishop Garrigan High School and Middle School on Tuesday, and students at Iowa Lakes Community College and 450 high school students from the surrounding area on Wednesday. A visit to the POW Museum and the Nativity Scene Wednesday afternoon rounded out his stay.

The AAUW-Algona Branch, the Haggard-Twogood Trust, the POW Museum, and Dr. Alan and Susan Scher sponsored his visit.

For more information about Samuel Marder, or to purchase a copy of his book, “Devils Among Angels,” visit his website at www.samuelmarder.com.

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