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Remembering the Tragedy of the Holocaust

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Remembering the Tragedy of the Holocaust

Photo courtesy of dallasholocaustsurvivor.com

Photo courtesy of dallasholocaustsurvivor.com

Isabella Fuentes

Photo courtesy of dallasholocaustsurvivor.com

Isabella Fuentes

Isabella Fuentes

Photo courtesy of dallasholocaustsurvivor.com

Isabella Fuentes

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This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust, and individuals worldwide are remembering the genocide that resulted in the deaths of over six million Jews from 1933 to 1945.  Mike Jacobs, Holocaust survivor from Poland, and Robert Lundy Sr., a U.S. veteran, both recollect their experiences during the Second World War

During his reign of terror, murder and prejudice, World War II, fascist Dictator Hitler ordered the systematic killing of the supposedly “inferior” Jewish and Slavic population under the “Final Solution” policy of the Nazis. The policy dictated the murders of many, including three million of the 3.3 million Jewish population in Poland.

Among this minority of survivors was Mike Jacobs. In 1939, Jacobs was a perfectly regular 14-year-old boy. He played soccer after school with friends, until the Nazis invaded his home Sept. 1st.

“They tattooed numbers [on you] to make you feel [that] you weren’t human anymore.” Jacobs said.

After leaving his home on a boxcar, cramped with what Jacobs estimates as 75 other people, Jacobs was transported into the ghettos and three separate concentration camps. Jacobs had two brothers and sisters, and 80 aunts, uncles and cousins. Among them, he was the only survivor. Within the concentration camp, food for Jacobs came in the form of small portions of bread and soup.

“If you were lucky, you got water,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs labored under the Schutzstaffel, Hitler’s secret police, in scrap yards, steel mills and highways. He was faced daily with death and psychological warfare. Jacobs told of mothers being taken, and leaving their children swaddled in blankets, hopeful that someone would save their lives. Instead, Jacobs recounts Nazi official Sergeant Holtzer, amongst others, using the small children as target practice.

It was not until six years after being taken, following the death of his parents and siblings in the Treblinka death camp, that Jacobs was freed from a concentration camp in Austria.

“I was liberated by the Americans on May 5th, I weighed 75 lbs,” Jacobs said.

In order to stop Hitler’s heinous crimes from continuing, the Allied Forces consisting of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United States and Great Britain agreed to establish a military front in Normandy, France. This day would be noted in history books as D-Day, and it was the beginning of the end of Hitler’s empire.

Lundy was drafted into the Army and became a parachute-troop in the 101th Division in D-Day.

“I didn’t like being drafted, because I had already volunteered to go in a Merchant Marine. I had everything [to become a Merchant Marine], but I got drafted [into the 101st Division] before they took me in to the Merchant Marines,” Lundy said.

Lundy explains how his division jumped into Normandy, France at 1:20 a.m. The plan was for the parachute-troops to fight their way to the beachfront established at “Utah Beach,” where Allied Navy troops fought the Nazi soldiers on the northern, French coastal region.

“I was only there [at Normandy, France] for three days. I was wounded by grenade shrapnel in the upper, left arm,” Lundy explains.

Lundy not only took part in the invasion of Normandy, but he also fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Occurring in Dec. 1944, Hitler’s Nazis were focused on splitting the Allied armies in northwestern Europe. The 101st Division, fighting in the blistering cold (which later resulted in pneumonia), held off the Nazi offensive.

“The German general had planned to make one, big push. They wanted to get to Bastogne, yet they didn’t. My division had just come out of Holland; we had been in Holland for 72 days, I think it was. [The Nazis] took us up to where the Battle of the Bulge was. After the Battle of the Bulge, [our division] went to Austria, and soon to where Hitler’s hideout was,” Lundy said.

Lundy described his feelings towards the Nazis, whom he described as young 15 and 16 year olds. The expectations of war were met, but to a much further extent.

“I didn’t have any [feelings for them]. You know, it was either them or us. That’s the way it was. And we ended up winning,” Lundy said. “War was much worse than I thought it would be. There was so many dead people from our guys and their guys. It was a bloody mess.”

When the war had finally ended with the Allies being triumphant, Lundy witnessed the enemy troops surrendering in the German towns. For his bravery as a serviceman in the Armed Forces, Lundy received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.

After being liberated by the American troops Jacobs emigrated to the United States and founded Jacobs Iron and Metal, a scrap metal company. The Nazis showed him no mercy, yet when asked about forgiveness Jacobs said there was nothing to forgive. He believes we should never forget the horrific death and prosecutions that so many faced.

 

 

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Remembering the Tragedy of the Holocaust