Local Holocaust survivor: 'Unfortunately, we haven't learned ...'

Local Holocaust survivor: 'Unfortunately, we haven't learned ...'
Robbie Waisman, a local Holocaust survivor, talks about his experience and what it means for people today.
MERCER ISLAND, Wash. - Thousands of Jewish people turned out Sunday to mark the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising - which symbolized the Jewish resistance against the Nazis in World War II during the the Holocaust.

Locally, a solemn remembrance was held at the Holocaust Memorial at the Stroum Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island.

A survivor of Buchenwald concentration camp and a former U.S. Army soldier who helped liberate that camp shared their stories. Both said they want to make sure we never forget the hard lessons learned in World War II - that still resonate today.

"We were assured that the Holocaust would teach the world understanding and cooperation and eliminate hatred and discrimination. But unfortunately we haven't learned the lesson," says Robbie Waisman, who was still a child when he was sent to the infamous Buchenwald camp.

After he was liberated on April 11, 1945, he learned that his sister Leah was the only other member of his immmediate family who had survived. The rest of his siblings and father and mother were all killed in Treblinka.

Leo Hymas, a former U.S. Army soldier who helped liberate Buchenwald, said Sunday that he was enraged when he saw first-hand the horrors inside the camp.

"I wanted to kill every German I could find," he says.

Only 19 years old at the time, Hymas was haunted for years by what he experienced in the camp - 18,000 emaciated prisoners, crematoria, cramped barracks and Nazi guards who had "followed orders."

He says he now hopes people of all ages make the essential connection between the lessons of the Holocaust and the moral choices they face today.

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To learn more about the Holocaust and its lessons for humanity, visit the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center’s website »