Holocaust survivor shares history

EBENSBURG – A Bishop Carroll Catholic High School student stood up to ask Holocaust survivor Judith Meisel how she kept her faith in God after being forced into a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.

“The Nazis were killing God at the same time they were killing us,” Meisel said. But the Nazis could not kill her faith in God or in herself, she said.

Bishop Carroll students earlier had watched “Tak for Alt,” a documentary about Meisel’s life, and had the opportunity to speak with the Holocaust survivor and civil rights activist during a presentation on Wednesday.

“Tak for alt” means “thank you very much” in Danish, Meisel said. The phrase was ingrained in her head after a Danish woman, Paula, became her adoptive mother after Meisel escaped from a concentration camp.

If she survived the Holocaust, Meisel promised herself that she would talk about her experience so others could learn of the horrors and vow to never make the same mistake.

At times Meisel appeared emotional as she shared her story of survival. Weighing only 47 pounds when she escaped the Nazis at age 15, Meisel spent 2 years being nursed back to health in a hospital bed.

She left Europe and found her brother, who had been liberated by U.S. soldiers from the Dachau concentration camp in southern Germany and had moved to Canada.

She later married and moved to the United States.

One student asked if she harbored any ill-feeling toward Germany.

Meisel said she did not – adding that the German people of today could not be blamed for the Nazis.

Individuals need to work together and be tolerant of those who are different to eliminate hate, Meisel said. Respecting others no matter their color or religion and learning from those with differences is the key to a better future, Meisel told the students and teachers in attendance.

Despite fearing the Catholic church when she was younger because of her local priest’s views toward Jews, Meisel said she was amazed by Pope Francis and implored students to follow his examples of charity humility.

“What a kind, a holy man,” Meisel said. “It’s like he came from above.”

Meisel told students she had a lot to be thankful for and thanked them for their questions.

“To live one second more was fighting back against the Nazis,” she said.

Meisel said students should learn from the past and honor their faith in order to better understand each other.

“We are all made in the above’s image,” Meisel said.

Mirror Staff Writer Zach Geiger is at 946-7535.