Holocaust Survivor Shares Personal Account of History

Holocaust Survivor Shares Personal Account of History Photo

Fifth-graders at Dickinson Avenue Elementary School heard from 96-year-old Holocaust survivor Werner Hess on May 26. Hess, a speaker from the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County, visited the school to provide students with a better understanding of the significant time in history.

The presentation took place in the school library where he and his wife Lottie sat among the students. Hess shared his personal story of being a young boy in Germany during the Holocaust and how hate and discrimination impacted his life. His friendships were torn apart due to his Jewish ancestry and he was kicked off of his soccer team when he was 14-years-old because of it.

The students also learned more about Kristallnacht and Hess shared his experience living through the infamous night. He told students that his parents’ fish store was destroyed and that the following day, Nazis came for his father who was dying of cancer. They attempted to take him instead but when he reported to the collection point, he was not sent away. Instead, Hess escaped to England in 1939 and arrived in the United States in 1940.

He stressed the importance of educating generations about the tragic time in history to prevent it from ever happening again.

“We must respect the human rights of everyone,” said Hess.  

At the conclusion of his presentation, Hess shared a photograph from Kristallnacht and his passport with the students. They each had the opportunity to ask questions and many wanted to know more about what life was like before and after the Holocaust.

“It was sad to hear about what those people went through,” said fifth-grader Angel Cazeau. “I think it was really nice of him to tell us his story.”