A Child of the Holocaust recalls life in notorious concentration camp.

Imagine spending your formative years in a Nazi concentration camp, separated from family members and trying to understand the horror going on around you.

In the not so distant future, Holocaust survivors will be gone and that's why Marion Blumenthal Lazan shares her story of survival in the notorious Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany with students around the country.
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I sat down with Lazan after she addressed history students at Penn High School in Mishawaka and she told me she shares her story for a specific reason, "This generation is the very last to hear this firsthand. Some day they'll have to bear witness."
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Witness to the Holocaust that followed Hitler's rise to power and the eventually extermination of some 11-million Jews.
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She talked of the horrifying six years that she and her family of four, including her mother, father and brother, spent in both refugee and concentration camps.
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Students heard the horror of being herded onto cattle cars, and Marion, just a young girl, remembers vividly the night her family arrived at Bergen-Belsen, the same camp Anne Frank died in. "We were greeted by german guards who were shouting at us and threatening us with their rifles, machine guns and with these vicious looking dogs." Marion says to his day she is fearfull of German Shepards.
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Marion's father and brother were put in the male barracks.

Marion and her mother, who will be 105 in February, were put in the women's barracks where they slept together in one cot, sharing one thin blanket with no heat in bitterly cold German winters.

Their barrack was made to house 100 people but when Marion and her mother lived there, there were 600 women and children packed in.

She says they were given soup, which she describes as hot water with grizzle and vegetable scraps, once a day and bread once a week.
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She says there are images that we only read about in history books that she will never forget. Unable to shower or even use toilet paper she says the smell was horrific and death became an everyday occurance, "The smell of the burning flesh is another smell that reminded me of days at the camp," adding when they were herded outside to be counted which took hours, "we would treat our affected toes and fingers by the warmth of our own urine." She says in the year and a half she was in Bergen Belsen they were never allowed to brush their teeth. She also recalled the day she realized a wagon passing by the barracks was not carrying wood, "I soon realized they were dead bodies, piled one on top of the other and I was only nine years old."

She says her mother's inner strength and positive outlook on life kept her alive. And she says a game she used to play, that inspired her award winning memoir called Four Perfect Pebbles, was another way to pass the long days. The pebbles representing her family, "I would search for four pebbles. In my mind, if I'd find those four pebbles it meant that my family would all survive."
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Her family did survive Bergen-Belsen but just six weeks after being liberated by Allied troops Marion's father died.
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Survived, but Marion's dad died just six weeks after being liberated by Allied Troops. She blames the holocaust, "I weighed 35 pounds, 16 kilos at the age of 10 and a half. When we were liberated my mom weighed 60 pounds. So physically, we were done."
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Marion and her mother and brother persevered and three years later made their way to the United States. Now living in New York with her husband, Nathaniel, Marion says she still cranes her neck every time she passes Lady Liberty.
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Three years later, Marion, her brother Albert and mom, Ruth made their way to the United States and she says she'll lever forget arriving in New York Harbor. Now living in New York, Marion says she still cranes her neck every time she passes Lady Liberty, remembering the day the ship that brought them to America arrived in New York Harbor, "To greet and be greeted by that magnificent symbol of freedom, the freedom that had been denied us for so many years."
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Marion still carries the yellow star badge or patch that she and other jews were forced to wear on their clothes to mark them as Jews in public.
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It's as much a reminder of the torment jews suffered as it is her triumph and and a part of the message she challenges students to carry on, so that the horrific history of the Holocaust never repeats itself.
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She says in this new world where social media is so prevalent they can do their part to spread joy instead of pain, telling them, "Be kind and good and respectful and sensitive towards one another regardless of religious belief, color or national origin,' adding, "only if there's respect and tolerance for one another in the countries, can we expect to have peace in the world."
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Marion came to South Bend for a Kristallnacht Memorial at Temple Beth-El last Sunday. Kristallnacht, also called Night of the Broken Glass, was essentially the start of the Holocaust.
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Gangs roamed through Jewish neighborhoods breaking windows and burning synagogues.
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Marion was able to spend five days in Michiana and share her story at Penn and Adams High Schools, the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary's College.

Her trip was sponsored by the Kurt and Tessye Simon Fund and Temple-Beth-El.

If you'd like to know more about Marion or read her book, Four Perfect Pebbles, we have links on our website, just click on the links at the bottom of this story.

Four Perfect Pebbles: A Holocaust Story
Marion Blumenthal Lazan
http://www.fourperfectpebbles.com
http://marion@fourperfectpebbles.com

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