History came to life today for a group of junior high school students in Bentonville with a visit from two individuals who travel the country sharing their stories about the Holocaust.
Erika Gold was 12 years old and living in Hungary when the Nazis invaded. Sol Factor was born right after the war ended and became one of the hundreds of Jewish orphans trying to leave Europe.
It was a different kind of history lesson for the 200 students who attended the event. They listened to firsthand accounts of what it was like living through the Holocaust.
“It’s much more powerful when it’s not just words from a textbook but words from someone that lived through it and experienced all of it,” said Nicholas Esarte, an 8th grader at Fulbright.
“My mother jumped off, she winked at me, I jumped off after her and we walked away,” explained Gold.
She and her mother escaped from a Nazi truck carrying 300 Jewish women and children – headed for the Auschwitz concentration camp.
“I would’ve been dead probably the first hour or so,”Gold said.
“How could an educated nation like Germany…go along with Adolf Hitler,” Sol Factor said.
Factor was adopted by an American family after being separated from his mother in Munich, Germany.
“There was this program called orphan and unaccompanied children and that allowed me to come to the United States,” Factor explained.
Gold and Factor now travel across the U.S. sharing their stories to encourage people to stand up against injustice.
“When you see somebody abusing power, you have to speak up,” Factor explained.
“Hitler definitely showed the signs and people didn’t listen, they didn’t take him seriously,” Gold said. “It doesn’t matter who genocide is against, but they’re killing people for no reason so that’s why I do it as long as I can.”
Their message is already sinking in.
“The more we learn about it and the more we can learn to see the signs of it before it occurs, we can possibly end the discrimination of any minority on this planet,” Esarte said.
The event helped bridge the generational gap between those who experienced the Holocaust and those who experienced the Holocaust and those who may have only read about it in the history books.