Holocaust survivor hopes coronavirus is a wake-up call to the world

David Langham

Anita Lasker-Walfish, 94, said the pandemic could encourage people to get along better (Photo: BBC/Atlantic Productions/David Langham).

According to a Holocaust survivor, the coronavirus can remind the world that man is a human being.

On the occasion of the 75th. On the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the North German concentration camp Bergen-Belsen, Anita Lasker-Wolfisch said that the pandemic could make people react better to each other.

When asked whether the world is in danger of forgetting the lessons of the Holocaust, 94-year-old Lasker-Walfish answered, “Of course we’re all worried, but right now we’re worried about something else.

We are worried about the coronavirus, and perhaps the end result of this disaster, which is a global one, can be an incentive for people to treat each other better.

(Library of conference photos/Corbis/VCG on Getty Images)

This photo shows hundreds of women and children crammed into a room in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany, 1943-1945 (Photo: Library of the Congres/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images).

She went on to say: Maybe that, given what is happening in a world where everyone is worried, people are waking up and realizing that people are people, people.

Mrs. Lasker-Walfisch was a prisoner in Auschwitz and was then loaded onto a train with 3000 men to Bielsen when the Red Army entered the famous hunting camp.

she says: People always ask me: Was Belsen better or worse than Auschwitz? It was just different. Belsen was not a combat camp.

In Auschwitz people were killed in the most advanced way; in Belsen they didn’t need it. They just died in Belsen. That was the difference between the two sides.

She moved on: Belsen was so overcrowded they just gave up. The Germans just gave up. They left us for dead.

It was total chaos. The end of the world.

(Photo by Michele Tantussi/Getty Images)

Anita Lasker-Walfisch for the Holocaust Memorial Service 2018 in Berlin (Photo: Michele Tantussi/Getty Pictures)

The horror of Belsen was so great that the BBC initially refused to broadcast the full report of journalist Richard Dimbleby for fear of disturbing the viewers.

The TV presenter, father of Jonathan and David, said he had crossed a fence and found himself in a world of nightmares.

He described a prisoner, he said: She was a living skeleton, it is impossible to measure her age because she had almost no hair left and her face was just a sheet of yellow parchment with two holes for the eyes.

Dimbleby’s report was quickly followed by images of piles of exhausted corpses left outside the wooden huts of the camp, allowing the British public to see for the first time the reality of the final solution to the Nazi problem.

It is estimated that 50,000 people died in the first camp liberated by the British forces, and a further 14,000 of the 60,000 prisoners found alive were so vulnerable that they died within weeks of their release.

The diarist Anne Frank and her sister Margot are among the most famous victims of the camp, who are said to have died of typhoid fever between February and March 1945.

(Photo collection by George Rogers/LIFE image via Getty Images)

Women liberated in a concentration camp preparing for DDT against parasites (Photo: George Roger/LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images).

Susan Pollack, a survivor, said she never forgot the moment of her release.

Mrs Pollack, 89 years old, was sent to an ammunition factory after going through the Auschwitz selection process, deciding who should work and who should be killed immediately.

She arrived in Belsen after being forced on a death march together with thousands of other prisoners when the Nazis retreated to the west in 1945.

Mrs. Pollack said… How can you imagine an extermination camp this size? Most of us died of hunger, disease and total neglect.

When the British came to free us, I was already a corpse full of lice, but for the first time in almost a year I remember the tenderness, the kindness.

Someone came to get me and put me in this little ambulance. How is that possible? I was so dehumanized back then.

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She described the soldier who helped her, she said: I remember his touch. I remember how sweet he was.

I don’t remember what he said because my cognitive perception was gone, but I think it was the first time I felt a spark of hope in any way.

Mrs. Pollack was talking about the liberators: Fantastic people. I am forever grateful for what they did for us survivors – for the soldiers who fought in battle.

The commemorations of the year have been cancelled because of the pandemic, but the Holocaust Education Trust (HET) and many other charities are working to remember what happened.

Karen Pollock, executive director of HET, said that the populist movements in countries such as Hungary and Poland and their attempts to rewrite the Holocaust make our work even more important.

She went on to say: I am proud that we have generations of young people who feel it is not only their job to carry the legacy of the survivors, to remember what happened, but also to stand up for the truth about the Holocaust.

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