Holocaust Survivor Alice Kern Shares Inspirational Story With Rogue River Students
By Joan Jones, Staff Writer / SouthernOregonNews.com
4:19 pm PT, Tuesday, Apr 20, 2004
Rogue River, Oregon — How does anyone explain the Holocaust and the death of six million innocent people to children who have never known a life without at least the basic comforts? At Rogue River Middle School recently, Holocaust survivor Alice Kern gave a voice to the past for a gymnasium full of elementary and middle schools students. For a full hour they listened silently to Kern’s story. When one student asked how Kern had managed to escape the gas chambers three times, she said, “Miracles. I believe in miracles.”
Born in [Sighet!] Romania, Kern was 21 years old when she was shipped to Auschwitz with her mother, who was sent to the gas chambers upon arrival. Kern’s father, a very religious man, died earlier of a heart attack after the synagogues were closed. Two brothers escaped the Holocaust, but Kern was not to see them again for 20 years.
“You are the last generation to see a survivor,” she told the assembled students. “I am 81 years old and I will never stop lecturing and speaking. Few survivors are still able to do this.”
In 1945, the Nazis knew the American and Russian armies were approaching. “They had to kill very fast,” Kern said. Cattle cars full of Greeks, Italians, French and even Germans were brought into the camp to be executed in the gas chambers.
“By the end of the summer cattle cars came in and all the people were killed, no matter how many,” said Kern.
With the Russian army nearing, the Nazis threw open the gates to Auschwitz and forced the inmates to walk mile after mile. […]
Worse, there was no water and lice were rampant. “My head was covered with lice,” she said. “People got a high temperature and were dying like flies.”
Bergen Belsen was the camp where Anne Frank was taken and where she and her sister died. “There were so many little Anne Franks,” Kern said. “The bodies were piled higher and higher.”
For more information on Alice Kern or to order her book, Tapestry of Hope, or her video, visit her website at www.alicekern.com/index.html