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Holocaust survivor recalls realities of WWII

by Betül Duru - Copy Editor
Fri, Dec 13th 2019 10:00 am
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Holocaust survior Samuel Rind (above) came to the College at Brockport to share his surreal experince with students.

On Tuesday, Nov. 19, Samuel Rind, a Holocaust surviver, came to The College at Brockport to give a speech on his life during and after the Holocaust. His story consisted of many heartbreaking events, including the death of his father and brother which brought both Rind and the crowd to tears. Although 50 people were expected to attend the event, there were more than 100 students and faculty present. 

Before Rind took the stage, Chief Diversity Officer Cephas Archie introduced Rind to the audience by giving a brief overview of his life. 

“In 1937 Rind was just a child when WW2 started and his family spent the war in forced labor camps and ghettos,” Archie said. “During that time, Sam saw many killed and beaten. As holocaust survivors age, some fear that they are stories will be forgotten as history tends to repeat itself.”

When Rind first took the stage, he reminded the students he is one of many holocaust survivors in the area. 

“Please use us, this is important for the entire world, you are the future, don’t throw it away,” Rind said. “Don’t let stuff happen it’s happening right now we have lost respect for each other. If you don’t care what’s going on things will get worse, I am concerned about my kids and grandkids.”

WWII started on September, 1, 1939. However, the anti-semetism started in 1933, when Adolf Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany. Rind drew attention to the fact that wars do not start abruptly. On the contrary, cruelty builds up gradually.  

“When did the thing really start, how many of you know that?” Rind asked. “A war does not start overnight. You don’t call a meeting and say okay let’s start a war. It was planned and replanned for many years. How many here know when hitler became the leader of Germany. Hitler was a son of a b---- but unfortunately he was a good speaker. He knew how to convince people.”

Even before the Holocaust started, Rind and his family knew the danger coming for them and decided to split up into groups and go into hiding. They left his hometown Krasnobród and ended up in Pechora, which “was essentially a holding place until authorities shipped the people elsewhere,” according to the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester. The Rind family would lose track of many of their family members in this camp. 

Rind, his parents and his brother would be transported to Rachney from Pechora, a small labor camp in Ukraine. In this camp they would perform forced labor and would have barely anything to eat. 

“The work that was done in this particular camp in Rachney sounds kind of stupid but that’s the way it was, people dug graves and chucked stones,” Rind said. “Why would anybody want some body diging graves and chuckung stones? Obviously to bury people right, the only difference they would bury people dead or alive, it didn’t matter. If you were very weak you couldn’t dig and couldn’t chuck stones any more you wound up in that grave. Inmates would help each other by squeezing that person between two people, making that person stand up so he could live for another couple hours.”

He told the audience how they would survive when they had barely anything to eat by mentioning an airplane accident in the Andes, where half of the people on board survived by eating the other half. 

“That’s part of the laws of survival it happened in the Andes there is no reason for it not to happen during the holocaust,” Rind said.  

Rind’s brother and father were killed during the holocaust by guards and the Nazi. While he didn’t see his fathers death, he watched his brother die by the strikes of a Nazi. 

“Suddenly one day my little brother started screaming, he was hungry,” Rind said. “We didn’t have anything to eat, we didn’t have anything to exchange for food, so he kept screaming until one day the door opens up and this guard yells ‘make him stop’ I started playing with him I started tickling him my mom hugs him kisses him. Nothing. The guard comes again opens the door and yells again ‘Make him stop or I will!’ How can we stop somebody thats hungry, somebody that is 28 months old how do you stop a child screaming that is hungry. Well we couldn’t. He screamed louder and louder finally the Nazi gaurd comes in, with a yellow stick and starts hitting my brother on the head until he kills him and I had to watch that.”

During the holocaust, more than 20 million people were killed. While close to six million of them were Jews, Romas, disabled people, black people and anybody who wasn’t perfect in the eyes of the Nazis.

Rind and his mother were liberated in March 42, 1944 by people of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. After that they crossed from Czechoslovakia to Austria.

“We were lucky, very lucky,” Rind said. “Lucky to the point that’s the reason I’m here. We wound up in the American zone less than a mile away was the russian camp. If we would have wound up there only God knows where mom and I would be now. That’s one thing I thank God every day before I go to bed. That he directed us to the U.S. camp and not the russian or british. So when we got there first thing the commander in the camp did was took all the refugees to fill out paperwork to see if we can come to the United States. We filled out the paper twice. We were rejected both times. We weren’t allowed to go into the United States.”

Rind and his mother eventually moved to Bolivia, as his mother had a brother who lived there. He would live in Bolivia until he applied to a university in the United States. 

“And the reason was to come here because I really wanted to see if the United States for that bad,” said Rind. “And you know what? From day one, I never, ever had better reception than I did from the people. And I realized that the government typically were a bunch of S.O.Bs.”

There were many students who came to Rind’s lecture, while some attended for a class a lot of the students attended because they thought it would be important. 

“I actually skipped my class to come to this event, as soon as I saw the flier, I knew this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I would gain knowledge and insight I would not have the ability to gain anywhere else,” a Brockport student Julianna Testone said. “His story is incredibly important and I wanted to be there to listen to it,” Testone said. “I think it is important for Brockport to include more events like this. It was a huge turnout and the room was overflowing. There are pieces of history that we cannot forget and we need to rely on others to tell us. As Samuel Rind said, Holocaust survivors are a dwindling population as time goes on and we need to hear their stories now.”

Rind’s story is something all of us should learn from so nothing like the Holocaust ever happens again. 

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