Upper school students heard powerful, unforgettable survival stories from two Holocaust speakers.
John Koenigsberg was a young boy in the Netherlands when his homeland became occupied by Germans in 1940. He shared with students stories of living under Nazi occupation and the cruel indignities Jewish people were forced to live through before most were sent to the Sobibór extermination camp in Poland. The Netherlands would go on to lose more Jewish people than in any other country in Western Europe. Koenigsberg was fortunate to spend the war with a Catholic family in a small town in the south of Holland and eventually reunited with his parents in 1945. Since the 1990s, he has been a dedicated Holocaust speaker “so that we won’t forget.”
Debbi Sugarman, the aunt of recent Wellington graduate Jacob Dach ‘17, is the child of an Auschwitz survivor. Her father, Morris Dach, was from a small town in Poland before his entire family was sent to live in the Warsaw Ghetto. She described their lives in the cramped quarters with no water, no food, no sanitation, and rampant disease until they were loaded onto freight cars destined for concentration camps. Dach was the only member of his family to survive. “My father was a rebel,” she said, “that’s why he lived.” Forced into labor in which he had to witness countless horrors, Dach’s found the strength to go on so that he could one day share his story. Since her father’s passing, Sugarman has made it her personal mission to educate future generations on the dangers of remaining silent and complacent when atrocities are committed. Of the Holocaust, Sugarman said, “The world turned their backs on what was going on.”