Holocaust survivor shares story with Ursinus

Sam Rosenthal

sarosenthal@ursinus.edu

“As survivors are getting older, it will be harder and harder to hear a first-hand account of their stories in person,” the UC website said, in an effort
to encourage students to take advantage of Holocaust survivor Ernie Gross’ talk on March 27. Gross shared his story of going to Auschwitz as a kid and the traumatic experience of losing his family. The event was organized by Dr. Alexandria Frisch, Visiting Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies / Coordinator of Jewish Life.

Gross grew up in Romania and was taken to Auschwitz when he was just a teenager. One of Gross’s many memories was about how he had to change his way of thinking in order to survive. Instead of sharing the little bread he got, he had to develop a selfish mindset so he could survive. Gross also made a point to include humor in his story, believing it was necessary to help both him and the audience get through his tragic tale.

The talk was especially important for Jewish students, like senior Mikaela Bordonaro. She said, “I feel like it is part of my duty as a Jewish person to listen to the stories of Holocaust survivors so when they are no longer around their legacy can keep going.”

Sophomore Ally Henriksen attended the event because she thought it was important to remember it the way it happened. “I went because of the personal experiences behind the Holocaust,” Henriksen said, “in order to get a better understanding of the event.”

Bordonaro also wanted to emphasize the importance of Holocaust education, believing that going further than the classroom is an important step. “Push yourself out of your comfort zone, attend talks and lectures that aren’t mandatory for a class you’re taking, educate yourself outside of the classroom,” said Bordonaro.

Gross himself left a final message after the talk. “Well I’d like the students to take away from my story that, if somebody asks you for help… try to forgive. Anybody you can help you should help,” said Gross, “Also we have to like each other because we all come from the same source. It shouldn’t matter how you look like, everybody counts.”