Friday, April 28, 2017

TOP STORY >> Holocaust survivors honored

19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Little Rock Air Force Base held a candlelight vigil held Tuesday to honor the millions of people who perished in the Holocaust and its survivors.

Three guest speakers shared their stories to enlighten Team Little Rock about the history of those times.

Zwia Weiss, a Hungarian Jew and a Holocaust survivor, recounted her escape as a young girl from the Nazis.

“I moved from place to place to escape,” said Weiss, who now lives in Little Rock.

“I spoke such perfect German at a young age that the Nazis never assumed I was Jewish. It saved me many times.”

Weiss fought her way to freedom in the United States.

Every step of her journey, she fought for survival and a new life. At one point, she had to be smuggled through the Alps into Italy, where she would eventually gain access to a ship bound for America with forged Christian papers.

“America was the Promised Land,” Weiss said. “I was very young and I (knew I) had to get to America.”

The Statue of Liberty beckons people with the words inscribed on the tablet she holds: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Those words rang true for Weiss and many other survivors who eventually sought safe haven in the United States.

It was that struggle for life and freedom that service members and civilians honored during the vigil. At its conclusion, candles were lit in honor of the approximately 11 million Jews, Romani, homosexuals, physically and mentally disabled, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Poles and Slavic victims of the Holocaust.

“Taking a moment of silence to reflect while everyone in the room is holding a candle is a great way to show that we are all united about a common cause,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Sarah Hubert, 19th Airlift Wing chaplain assistant.

“The true significance (of the) candles is when you are surrounded by darkness, the light of a glowing candle helps one reflect. It can also symbolize a new beginning for some, and remembrance for others,” Hubert said.