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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Stand up, survivor teaches NW

By Connor Hamilton/ nw news editor

Paul Kessler presents Through the Holocaust April 14. Kessler shared the lessons he learned from the Holocaust. Katelyn Townsend/The Collegian
Paul Kessler presents Through the Holocaust April 14. Kessler shared the lessons he learned from the Holocaust.
Katelyn Townsend/The Collegian

Paul Kessler told the story of his life and experiences during World War II in his presentation Through the Holocaust.

“What’s really important is the lessons for the future, not so much what happened in the past,” NW students learned April 14.

Kessler was born in Eastern Czechoslovakia in September 1939, the same month World War II began.

“The very first memory that I have, I’m maybe 3 or 4 years old,” Kessler said. “I remember hiding under the bed in our home because some bad people were coming to get us.”

In 1942, members of Kessler’s family like his father and grandfather were captured and sent to concentration camps. His father was shipped to the camps by one of his neighbors.

Two years later, the house Kessler was living in was discovered by German soldiers.

“I remember my mother and I throwing on whatever clothes we had handy, and she and I managed to escape to the forest outside the village,” he said.

Kessler and his mother spent the remaining seven months of the war inside a 4-foot-deep hole covered in branches behind the house of some acquaintances of theirs who were hiding them.

“If we were found, we and the people hiding us would have been shot on the spot — we for being Jewish, they for sheltering Jews,” Kessler said. “I often ask myself, could I do the same? Could I risk my own life to save another human being that I hardly know?”

Kessler concluded his talk by listing a number of lessons he believes the Holocaust teaches.

He said people should not take what they have for granted because they must remember how quickly civilization can become barbaric.

“The world has yet to learn from the Holocaust,” Kessler said. “Imagine how many people had to be silent for something like the Holocaust to occur.”

Kessler explained that more people need to be “upstanders,” which he defined as someone who will stand up against hate, prejudice and intolerance, and not be bystanders.

The presentation was sponsored by the NW Campus Bridge the Gap club and Christians United for Israel.

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