Survivor imparts valuable lesson

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Here’s a little inside baseball for you.

Every day, we get unsolicited press releases from dozens of places.

Some of the press releases are thinly-veiled advertisements promoting a product or a service. They go in the trash bin. Others are sent to us from places so distant we can’t imagine any Person County reader having even a remote interest in the topic of the press release.

Other times, we get press releases from local people, organizations and local government agencies. Those typically make the pages of the newspaper and provide readers with information we believe they can use.

Sometimes, though, a local organization sends us a press release that merits a deeper look. We will use the information in the press release as the basis for a story a member of our news staff writes.

That was the case recently when we received a press release from the Person County Public Library. That place is a gold mine of exciting stuff – but that’s a column for another time.

This particular press release was about a woman who’s coming to speak on May 11.

Bonnie Hauser is the daughter of Rebecca Hauser. Rebecca died in 2018. She was 95. More importantly, she was a survivor of Nazi Germany’s concentration camps during World War II.

That evil period in world history is now nearly 75 years in our rear-view mirror. I have yet to meet anyone who believes the Holocaust wasn’t as bad as historians make it out to be. There are Holocaust deniers out there, but they strike me as fringe actors more interested in making a name for themselves than casting a fair light on history.

Bonnie Hauser accompanied her mother on many of the speeches Rebecca made as part of the Holocaust Survivors’ speaker’s bureau. She heard her mother’s stories dozens of times.

And, in the wake of her mother’s death, Bonnie Hauser continues to share the lessons learned from her mother’s experiences. Interestingly, she’s found a way, in death, to keep her mother’s message alive. Visitors who attend the address at the Person County Public Library on May 11 will hear from Rebecca Hauser herself. Someone filmed Rebecca Hauser telling her stories and her daughter uses that video to let her mother continue to tell her own story.

I watched the video last week and it’s startling. It’s also uplifting.

Rebecca Hauser didn’t let her experience define her life. She walked out of the concentration camp, returned home to Greece and, eventually, made her way to the United States.

Bonnie Hauser made another interesting observation last week when I was talking with her about her upcoming visit. She pointed out that 13 million people died in the Holocaust. That number sounded high to me. I had always heard that 6 million died in the Holocaust. Actually, that’s how many Jews died. Another 7 million people who weren’t like Adolph Hitler’s race, also died. They died just because they weren’t like Hitler. Wrap your head around that.

Germans have learned the lessons of the Holocaust. They no longer have a military machine capable of offensive warfare. The German people recognize the stain Hitler left on their heritage.

I once worked with an exchange student from Germany. I asked her how people in Germany today view Hitler and that era. She quickly shook her head and said she didn’t want to talk about it. Clearly she was ashamed of the association.

But while Germans may have learned those lessons, people in other parts of the world clearly have not. Witness genocides in places like Cambodia under Pol Pot in the 1970s and Rwanda in the 1990s.

We would all do well to crowd into the Person County Library on May 11 to learn, from someone who experienced it, how wrong it is to denigrate or mistreat someone else because they are not like us.

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