By Ms. Clester Burdell (AMC)May 2, 2019
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- "This is a piece of barbed wire that was used in one of the Dachau concentrations camps," said John Gurner, a curator with the U.S. Army Museum Support Center, as he displayed a piece of steel wire fabricated with sharp points.
The wire's authenticity was verified by the 45th Infantry, which donated it to the Army's museum system.
Gurner spoke about artifacts relative to the Holocaust prior to the guest speaker at Anniston Army Depot's Holocaust Remembrance Lunch and Learn event, held April 23 at the Training Office.
The guest speaker during the event was Esther Gerson Levy, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor.
"My parents did not teach hate, but to treat everyone with the respect and dignity they deserved," said Levy, who shared her mother's story with the installation's workforce.
The Holocaust was the systematic persecution and murder of six million Jews by the Nazi regime between 1941 and 1945.
According to Holocaust encyclopedia, Holocaust is a word of Greek origin meaning "sacrifice by fire."
The Nazis, who came to power in Germany in January 1933, believed that Germans were "racially superior" and Jews, deemed "inferior," were an alien threat to the so-called German racial community.
"I didn't want my mother to relive the pain, but I discovered pages of her story in 2006 which had sat in a drawer at home," she said. "I captured some of it by use of a tape recorder."
Tobi Komornik Gerson, born in 1925 in Poland, had four siblings, but only two survived the Holocaust.
At the age of 17, she became free labor in a factory for the Germans. The plan was to starve them to death.
The work was hard, the food was minimal and the buildings had no heat nor plumbing.
If a spool of thread at the factory went missing, Jews would be shot.
Wood and coal were rationed and the people were weakened by hunger and cold.
Many died and some killed themselves trying to escape the conditions.
She found her brother in Lodz, a ghetto used to segregate the Jews and isolate them from the rest of the world.
She lived with her brother for two years in deplorable conditions.
While there, she saw individuals under the age of 10, over the age of 65 or who were too sick to work being taken away.
In 1944, she and her brother were in Auschwitz, where she saw people being isolated for the gas chamber, some were whipped and many had already expired.
In August of that year, she was separated from her brother.
Gerson was chosen as one of 500 women to work in Berlin at a factory. The request was for French women, but some of the Polish-Jewish women made the cut.
She worked all day, marched to the living quarters and was rationed four ounces of bread and a bowl of soup.
Fortunately, she worked next to a German woman who gave her a sandwich. Nine months later, she was among the women chosen to be sent to concentration camps.
In 1945, Gerson and several of the other women were saved by the Swedish Red Cross, which was sent to free concentration camp inmates under Nazi control.
Gerson later moved to the United States and married Levy's father, who is now deceased.
Levy hopes the world will never forget the past and will become a better place.