HOLLAND Mich. (WOOD) — A Holocaust survivor who was just six years old when she was freed from a Nazi concentration camp spoke Tuesday morning at Hope College.
Tova Friedman spoke at the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts as part of a speaker series hosted by the Hope Academy of Senior Professionals.
“I really need to tell my story before there’s nobody here to tell the story. I’m one of the youngest people and I’m grateful for everybody who brought me here,” Friedman said.
The 85-year-old was a child imprisoned in the Auschwitz concentration camp and tells the story of the atrocities she witnessed in her book The Daughter of Auschwitz. Friedman says speaking to young people is especially important.
“They will grow up and they will be going to schools and they’ll be colleges and jobs and they will be always hearing, somebody will say, ‘It didn’t happen,’ and they are the ones who are gonna be my witness after I’m not here because they will say, ‘Oh yes it did because I know somebody that it happened to.’ So it’s very important for me to go,” Friedman said.
Friedman said she has had trouble sleeping after seeing the fighting in Israel and despite the concern, there is hope that someday there will be peace in the region.
“If we could be hopeful at Auschwitz when we saw everybody taken to the gas chambers — we were still hoping to make it every day and every day brought us closer to freedom — we can have hope now. We must have hope, otherwise there’s no point in getting up in the morning,” Friedman said.
The speech in Holland was organized by the Hope Academy of Senior Professionals.
Milton Nieuwsma, a journalist, author and documentary filmmaker served as moderator.
“She represents a million and a half children who died in the Holocaust. Voices like hers are gradually fading away. Survivors are dying off. So it’s important to keep stories like hers alive to combat racism, prejudice and bigotry,” Nieuwsma said.
Friedman plans to keep telling her story as long as she can.
“I don’t feel survivors guilt but I feel an obligation. If I’m here and the children are not here and I was saved by miracle after miracle then it’s my job and my obligation to tell the story of those children that aren’t here,” Friedman said.