Holocaust survivor shares story of resilience


By Kaisa Siipola, Reporter

Marion Blumenthal Lazan, a Holocaust survivor, shared her story at the Spokane Convention Center on Oct. 30, 2018.

Lazan’s speech acted as a reminder that the Holocaust, one of the most horrific events in world history, was not so long ago.

This past Saturday, anti-Semitism made yet another unfortunate appearance, as a gunman shot and killed 11 Jewish people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. The gunman informed a police officer that “all Jews must die,” according to the criminal complaint.

Before Lazan came to the podium to share her story, Rabbi Yisroel Hahn conducted a memorial in response to the Pittsburgh shooting with a prayer and a candle ceremony to represent the 11 victims.

President of the EWU Jewish Club Shawn Dufrene shared her thoughts regarding the Pittsburgh shooting.

“It’s been mostly a big shock,” Dufrene said. “It’s really upsetting and sad, and it’s really frustrating knowing what I know about the shooter.”

Dufrene added that she received emails from departments and organizations on campus, including the Scary Feminists club and the Multicultural Center, offering their support and condolences.  

“People getting together to worship and to remember those people that were gone, it was really hardening,” Dufrene said.

Lazan described her childhood experiences in the concentration camp, her liberation and how she began her new life in the U.S.

“Mine is a story that Anne Frank might have told [if] she had survived,” Lazan said in the presentation. “The constant foul odor, the filth continues with horror and fear surrounded by death.”

Lazan recalled the conditions that she and her family endured in the concentration camp.

“Once a month we were marched to an area to shower and undress in front of the guards,” Lazan said. “We there were never sure, when the faucets were turned on, as to what would come out, water or gas.”

Lazan said death was an everyday occurrence.

“One-by-one, bodies were taken away due to malnutrition, attempts of escape, electrocution, dysentery and the loss of will to go on,” Lazan said.

To pass the time in the concentration camp, Lazan decided that if she were to find four pebbles that were about the same, it would mean the four members of her family would all survive.

Lazan said the game gave her something to hold on to.

Lazan  was 13 when she arrived in the U.S. and had to get acquainted to a typical society. She also had to get acclimated to being in a new country and starting her education later than normal.

Lazan spoke of the importance of learning from events like the Holocaust.

“As difficult as it is, the horror of the Holocaust must be taught, must be studied and kept alive,” Lazan said. “Only then can we guard it from ever happening again.”

Lazan said the Holocaust made her appreciative of the things she has in life, made her a stronger person and that she was grateful for the opportunity to speak to the audience.

“Never give up hope,” Lazan said. “It’s not so much what happens to a person, but how we deal with the situation [that] makes a difference.”

For more information about Lazan’s story go to her website at fourperfectpebbles.com.