Holocaust survivor remembers
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 01:04
“This is my story of liberation from hell,” Dorothy Finger, a Holocaust survivor, says to a roomful of silent students in Gore Hall last week. Finger was 11 years old when her native Poland was invaded by Russian and German forces, marking the beginning of a nightmare she says she was lucky to survive.
Finger says when she was a girl, she did not realize she was “different” from other children until Poland was invaded.
“Why was I different?” she asked. “I was Jewish.”
Of the 90 members of her family who suffered through the Holocaust, only Finger and one of her cousins survived the Nazi occupation. She survived three ghettos, one labor camp, a bullet to the ear and typhus—all of which she says she can barely believe happened.
Finger’s speech Thursday night about her survival was one of several events organized for Holocaust Remembrance Week, also known as Yom HaShoah. Flags were displayed on The Green all week to commemorate lives lost in World War II. Events were sponsored by HillelStudent Life, KOACH, Kesher, ChiaNamics and the Office of Equity and Inclusion.
Finger’s father was one of hundreds of Jews forced to do menial labor in her town and was beaten daily. Because Jewish people were no longer allowed to go to stores or hospitals, Finger and her mother tended to his injuries themselves. When her father could no longer work, he was sent to a concentration camp. He never reached the camp, suffocating in the overcrowded, standing room-only train.
After the end of World War II, Finger says she was faced with a dilemma—where to go next. She thought all of her family had been killed, along with the members of her community. A cousin in America eventually sent for her when she was 17 years old, allowing her to escape.
Junior Stacy Meyerson, president of Hillel Student Life, says she was touched by Finger’s speech.
“Dorothy’s speech was even more than I expected,” Meyerson says. “The turnout was bigger than I imagined and the speech was very inspirational.”
Junior Andrea Bromberg says listening to Finger speak was a moving experience.
“Every survivor tells a unique story,” Bromberg says. “It is more than worth listening to.”
Toward the end of her speech, Finger recalled something her mother said to her before they were separated.
“She said, ‘My dear child, you are young and strong. I am sure you will survive. I am certain I will not. If you survive, tell them how they treated us,’” Finger says.
Freshman Jeffrey Rosenthal says remembering the stories of those like Finger is crucial.
“It’s important to remember our history, especially because in a few years, the people who survived the Holocaust won’t be here,” Rosenthal says.
Finger says she does not take her survival for granted and knows she could have easily been among the 6 million Jews murdered during the Holocaust.
“I survived because I was young and I was lucky,” she says, citing her mother’s words 70 years later.