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Holocaust Survivor Recalls Troubled Past at Campus Lecture

The University welcomed Holocaust survivor Helen Terris last Wednesday. She was eight-years-old when the Nazis began their mass execution of Germany’s Jewish population.

“I could not speak about my past for 50 years because it was just too painful for me and now I can no longer remain silent,” Terris began the story of her life during WWII. “It is now up to us, the children survivors, to keep the story alive so that it is never forgotten, and never ever repeated.”

Terris revealed to the audience that Jews had many rules once the Germans invaded the ghettos. They had to walk in the gutters, they were unable to talk to anyone who was not Jewish, children were not allowed to be enrolled in school, they lost all their businesses and they had to wear a yellow star over their left breast and back so they could be easily identified. If they were to break any of these rules, they could and would be punished by death.

At one point during the war, the Jews had to gather together at 7:00 am one day and no one could be left behind, otherwise they would be shot; this is when the selection period started. “The Germans called this an action; we called it a slaughter, because that is what it was,” Terris said. If you had a man, your families were sent to the left which meant life. Terris, however, only had her mother so they were sent to the right, which meant death.

Terris’ mother knew they were going to be killed so she told her daughter to run. “We ran into a house and saw three dead men on the floor; they must have had the same idea as us,” Terris said. “My mother scooped up the blood and put it all over my body and face. We had to play dead while the German’s checked the house.”

Another story that Terris told the audience was when she hid under a porch while the Germans searched through leaves to find any Jews. “They found me and the man let me go; he could have shot me many times over but he let me go,” she Survivor continued from pg. 1 said. “I don’t know why.”

The main part of Terris’ story had to do with a video clip from the movie Defiance. It was about the Bielski Partisans that saved so many Jewish lives. The Bielski Partisans were a group of fighters who sabotaged the war efforts. “They were our life lines, without them I would have been a statistic,” Helen commented.

“The only thing that gave us the slightest glimmer of hope was the knowledge that no war lasts forever, that sooner or later all wars must end, and that if we could only hold out one more day, one more house, one more minute, maybe, maybe this madness would end, and we would all live,” Terris ended her story.