PARISH – Altmar-Parish-Williamstown Junior-Senior High School students recently listened to a message of hope and empathy as they heard the story of Holocaust survivor Marion Blumenthal Lazan.
Born in Hitler-ruled Germany, Lazan spent some of her precious youth years in concentration camps with the fear of being sent away for extermination.
Painful memories are still so vivid that the 88-year-old turned her cheek when showing students the yellow Star of David the Nazis required her to wear as a child.
Students remained silent as Lazan explained that she only had a knapsack for her belongings, how food was minimal and that she lived among 599 other Jews in a shelter designated for 100 people.
The cold, deplorable conditions were meant to break Lazan and her mother, father and brother.
Disease and destruction resulted in the death of millions of Jews, including Lazan’s father.
Lazan encouraged students to always persevere, as she and her family had through that tragic time.
In 1945 they were liberated and a few years later they arrived in America.
She stressed the importance of education as she told her story of having to enter fourth grade at age 13 because she didn’t know how to speak English.
Dedicated to her studies, Lazan graduated high school at 18 years of age with the top 10 students of her class.
Following her presentation in the auditorium, she spoke one-on-one and took pictures with dozens of students.
She stressed the importance of sharing her story because the current generation of youth is the last to have the opportunity to see aging Holocaust survivors.
Several students purchased her memoir, “Four Perfect Pebbles,” inscribed by Lazan.
They hugged her and thanked her for sharing her story.