By RODNEY TANAKA
The Los Angeles Times
GLENDALE COMMUNITY COLLEGE — The audience received an unforgettable history lesson, and the speaker hopes to keep it that way.
George Brown spoke at Glendale Community College Tuesday, describing his experiences during the Nazi Holocaust.
The event was organized by GCC students David Osipitan and Michael Ibarra for the One America Project, a series of events highlighting diversity. Brown visits many schools through the Los Angeles-based Museum of Tolerance.
Brown’s family, originally from Hungary, were taken to Auschwitz, the forced-labor and extermination center in Poland, by train in 1944.
The Nazis murdered more than 2 million people at Auschwitz between 1941 and 1945.
The smoke from the crematoriums rose from the chimneys all the time, Brown said. A block leader for his barracks explained the situation to him when he first arrived.
“He said, `The only way you leave this place is through the chimneys,’ ” Brown said. “Eighty percent of the people left through the chimneys.” The Jewish people in the camp lost their identities and were treated worse than prisoners, Brown said. He was separated from his brothers and sister, and learned they all died by the end of the war, Brown said.
He managed to stay with his father when they were sent to labor camps in Austria. On Feb. 12, 1945, Brown turned 16 years old. His father told him he hoped at age 17 he would be free and be able to tell the world about the Nazi atrocities.
“Someone has said the Holocaust never happened,” Brown said. “If so, what happened to my family?”