Holocaust Survivor Speaks To Students In Thomas County

By: Alicia Turner
March 25, 2015 6:49 PM

THOMASVILLE, Ga. -- Students in Thomas County received a powerful history lesson Wednesday. They were getting a first-hand account on the Holocaust; from a man who was born just as World War ll started.

"I'm part of the 9% that survived," Rishfeld said.

75-year-old George Rishfeld spoke to a room full of eager students at Thomas County Middle School Wednesday. He told them how he was born in Poland, just a few months before the Nazi invasion, and he and his parents survived the Holocaust.

"A lot of people think that it was a Hollywood myth, that the Holocaust never happened. I feel like I was saved to be a witness to the fact that it really did happen," said Rishfeld.

Many of the students just studied the Holocaust in class, and read the Diary of Anne Frank. Most of the students described the opportunity to hear Rishfeld's story as a way to bring it all home.

"It's one thing to read about it in a text book, but it's another thing to actually have somebody tell about it to you. It makes it a lot more surreal," said Landon Trotter, an 8th grader student at TCMS.

Taylor Hester told Eyewitness News that she loves history and enjoys studying the Holocaust. Hester says listening to Rishfeld's story opened her eyes to the important of tolerance and acceptance.

"It was a sad thing to experience and to hear, because it's hard to hear about people going through that. I just wish that didn't happen, but I'm glad he's here to tell us his story," Hester said.

Rishfeld said he was three when it all happened. He said he can't remember much, but he knows that he's only here today because of his parents desire to save him.

"I'm told that they literally took me and threw me over a barbed wire fence into the arms of Helenka."

Helenka was the daughter of a Christian family who agreed to take Rishfeld in, and raise him if parents never made it back. He lived with them for three years until both of his parents came back for him.

Micahel Weinroth works with the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust. He said it's important that children get experiences like the one brought to them through Rishfeld's story.

"He is a witness to the horror that happened. His story is so amazing. Anyone who survived the Holocaust was not meant to be, they weren't meant to be survivors," Weinroth said.

The Georgia Commission on the Holocaust said Wednesday's talk is part of a new initiative to go into schools, and confront threats to human rights including intolerance, antisemitism, racism and ignorance.

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