The United States Army Signal Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon Command Program presented an observance honoring the Holocaust: Days of Remembrance, April 16 at Alexander Hall. The theme was Choosing to Act: Stories of Rescue.
Guest speaker, Mariella Crea, a representative from the Breman Jewish Heritage and Holocaust Museum in Atlanta, gave an account of her mother, uncle and father's experiences during World War II in France. By her account, they were heroes who put their own lives at risk to save people from Hitler's atrocities, helping total strangers survive.
In the 1930's and 40's, Hitler directed a genocide against the Jewish people, gypsies, people with disabilities and the mentally ill in staggering numbers; some estimates place the number at more than eight million people.
That horrible time in history conjures up names of places such as Auschwitz, Dachau, and Treblinka, where Hitler's victims were starved, beaten, tortured, and in many cases burned or buried alive.
"Today's program will help us remember that these people were not just numbers, but real people, with real names, with real families, just like me and you," said Col. John Hildebrand, 7th Signal Command (Theater) deputy commander.
During the war, Crea's father, an Italian, was a prisoner in a German work camp near Berlin, and her mother and uncle rescued Jewish prisoners headed for concentration camps.
She said her uncle, who worked as a railroad station manager didn't want any recognition for rescuing people who should've been free in the first place. "He believed it was the right thing to do," she said.
Her mother was a young teen when she helped rescue escapees, guiding them through forests and helping them make connection with the French Resistance that provided food, clothes and further assistance to travel into Switzerland.
Crea lives in Georgia and is also an Army wife. She was born in a suburb of Paris.