An eighty-six-year-old survivor of the Holocaust, Susan Pollack, on Friday evening shared her emotional testimony of how she survived a genocide in which some six million European Jews were killed by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany.
Pollack delivered her testimony to over 50 young survivors of the genocide against the Tutsi drawn from different survivor groups as well as young people eager to learn about the history of the Jewish Holocaust and the Genocide against the Tutsi.
The event was held at Kigali Genocide Memorial Peace School.
The testimony featured inspiring messages to her young audience, messages of not giving up because of terrible past happenings, but to rather focus on the future.
In her grisly testimony that took about one hour, Pollack who was born in December 1930, narrated how she narrowly survived from the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi extermination camp where 1.2 million people were killed.
She recalled how her family and other Jews were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau and how she worked as a slave before narrowly escaping death at Bergen-Belsen, where she was liberated in April 1945.
Pollack, who currently lives in London, revealed to her audience the deaths of her over 50 relatives, all killed in the Holocaust.
Her life during and after the genocide was miserable, she said adding that the experience of the horrific events dating back 70 years is something she will continue to recount, adding that it is a great lesson to the rest of the world.
She advised youth to use their potential to bring positive change in the world and fight for justice and democracy.
“We can’t change the past but we can learn from it to chart a better future. Despite all the difficulties faced, our presence into the world should be impactful and meaningful. Our task is to build the peaceful universe. We can do little things, and others will come and continue. Don’t allow yourselves to be defeated. We are responsible for our future and let’s work for it and be concentrated on,” she said.
She underscored the need of collaboration between church and government to reconcile people to help exorcise hate from amongst people.
After the inspiring testimony, Fanny Ornella Agahozo, committed to look beyond the challenges and move forward.
“After the experience shared, I learnt that we should never give up but believe in the future more than the past. I got to know that struggling is hard but giving up is harder. I am inspired. The testimony strengthened me to work hard so that I can make my future better and brighter despite what my country went through,” she said.
Pollack was never enslaved by the hard times. Instead she strove for her self- reliance which is the lesson every Rwandan should learn, Agahozo said, committing to share the lessons with her colleagues.
Gesilene Happy Ngenzi’s take home was that no matter how bad leadership is, a patriot should speak louder so that the lives of people are salvaged.
She advised her friends to be the transformers of the future rather than slaves of the past.