MIAMI (WSVN) – Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day and as the number of survivors dwindles each year, sharing their first-hand accounts is more important than ever. 7’s Karen Hensel has one South Florida man’s story in our Spotlight.
The marking A-3913 on Saul Blau’s arm is faded, but this 92-year-old’s memory remains vivid.
Saul Blau: “I was next day marched off to Auschwitz, to the main camp and I was tattooed.”
Zoltan Saul Blau, who goes by Saul is describing the serial number etched on his body at the Nazi’s infamous Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. He was just 13 years old when his family was imprisoned there in 1944.
Saul Blau: “They marched us to the railroad station, to the cattle cars. 90, 95 people to a cattle car. A bucket of water, a bucket for waste. Old people, young people, babies. Horrible, horrible conditions. They opened those sliding doors. I still remember the sound of that sliding door. ‘click.’”
Saul was immediately separated from his family and he would never see his parents or younger sister again.
Saul Blau: “They went into a shower and instead of water, Zyklon-B gas came. And they were choked to death and they were burned in the crematoriums. And the barrack commander, he took us outside and he was pointing to the chimney. And the chimney was in full blaze. And he told us that you don’t have any parents anymore. They were eliminated within two and a half hours from the time that they arrived. It was terrifying. The only thing you wanted to do is try to survive.”
Saul Blau did survive. He was sent to work with other boys at a coal mining factory before being liberated by US Armed forces in 1945. Nearly 78 years later, he now shares his story with a new generation, volunteering at the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach.
Saul Blau: “I’m glad that I still remember. And I’m a condition that I could relay, especially to young people, who are hopefully learning something and not just on TikTok and Instagram.”
But while he talks about the past Saul says he is very concerned about the present.
From those who deny the horrors of the Holocaust.
Saul Blau: “So anybody that wants to deny that. How are you going to convince them? I smelled the fire, and I smelled the air, and I saw the flames.”
To the rise in antisemitism.
Saul Blau: “Social media has such a big part in it.”
The Anti-Defamation League, which tracks antisemitic incidents in the US, shows the trend over the last decade: the number reached an all-time high in 2021.
Saul Blau: “It’s terrible that 80 years since the Holocaust. That I would have never imagined that in my lifetime, these antisemitic incidents would happen in the United States.”
As for how to turn the tide on rising Jewish hate?
Saul Blau: “When it comes to philosophical things, how to solve the world problems of antisemitism. I have no — a lot of people would love to have you working on that.”
Saul Blau looking at documents: “This is a record from Auschwitz.”
Auschwitz, where more than a million people were exterminated by the Nazis. Of Saul’s five family members who were taken there, two survived.
Saul and his older sister Shirley, who is now 95 years old.
The reminder, not just on this day, but every day is to never forget.
Saul Blau: “Read history. Learn what happens in the world. Because without that, how much more can you explain Holocaust education?
To learn more about the Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach click here. For those who would like to learn more about the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, click here.
Karen Hensel, 7News.
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