- Red Bank Borough Public Schools
AUSCHWITZ SURVIVOR TO SPEAK AT RED BANK MIDDLE SCHOOL
Hanna Wechsler, a Holocaust survivor, is coming to Red Bank Middle School on December 20, 2018, at 10:00 AM to talk to the 8th Grade Students about her experiences in the Holocaust. Wechsler is also the author of the book In Spite of it All. Hanna was born in a small town in Poland in 1936. Her parents were wealthy, and her early childhood was happy and carefree, until 1939 when Hitler invaded Poland and Hanna and her parents went into hiding in the cellar of a barn. They were cared for by Polish farmers until they were deported to the Krakow ghetto. Using false papers, the family escaped to Hungary, living safely until the Germans occupied Hungary in March 1944. The family was captured, interrogated and tortured. Hanna and her mother were packed into a cattle car and sent to Auschwitz where they witnessed terrible abuse, starvation, disease, and death. There were few children in Auschwitz and it became Hanna’s mother’s mission to shelter and hide her. Hanna’s survival is largely due to her mother’s bravery and selflessness. Hanna along with her mother survived Auschwitz and while back in Krakow they were reunited with Hanna’s father who had been released from Dachau.
Hanna met her husband in 1959 and was married in 1962. They have two daughters and Hanna has two grandchildren. Hanna has dedicated the last 45 years to educating youth about the horrors of the Holocaust. Her message – in the face of adversity, one can overcome and prevail.
From Hanna's recent visit:
At an age when most students are starting kindergarten, Hanna Wechsler, a survivor of the infamous Auschwitz Death Camp, was hiding with 13 other people in a barn. On December 20, 2018, Hanna came to Red Bank Middle School to share her story of fear, persecution, and survival with our 8th Grade students as part of their Holocaust studies curriculum.
Her story of escape from the Krakow ghetto, captured by the Nazis, being transported in a cattle car to Auschwitz and the constant fear and hunger she endured resonated with the 8th graders. They listened in rapt silence as, sometimes overcome with emotion, she relived her painful past.
In Auschwitz, her only friends were the rats and mice who came out when her mother and the other prisoners went to work. She remembered watching her mother stand naked among a group of prisoners in Auschwitz as Dr. Josef Mengele, the camp's famous "angel of death," performed an inspection while she was hidden by the prisoners in the barracks. She described her terror as she heard him promise her mother she would die after his next inspection of the slave labor workforce.
Hanna and her mother survived because the next inspection never came. They were freed by the Soviet army in 1945. Her father also survived the Dachau camp. She made the students promise to always remember her story and repeat it to future generations. She reminded them to never forget and, “Be an agent for good in your lifetime!”