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Holocaust Survivor Shares His family's story before a standing only room crowd at Kaskaskia College

Holocaust Survivor Tells His Story at Kaskaskia College

By Bruce Kropp

A Holocaust Survivor told the story of his family to a standing room only crowd at the Kaskaskia College Teachers and Coaches Entrepreneurship Program Wednesday night.  

Jerry Koenig is now 82-years-old, but was only nine when his family was taken from their homes in Poland in 1939 and forced to move to the Warsaw Ghetto and endure deplorable living conditions.  Koenig's father was able to use his financial resources to get the family out of the Ghetto, but they were then forced into hiding for 22-months.  Koenig says they were among only ten-percent of the Jews living in Poland before the war began to survive.  

He didn't talk about the Holocaust for most of his life, but he has now been encouraged by his second wife and involvement with the Hollocaust Museum in St. Louis to tell his story.  "It doesn't get any easier.  You're talking to a group of strangers, you have to bare your soul, you have to talk about very personal things, and the memories are bad.  When you lose your family, when you witness pretty horrible things, why would you want to bring it back up?" said Koenig.  

Koenig notes with the rising tide against religious tolerance in the Middle East and Europe he thinks the story of the Holocaust is even more important.  "What makes this whole thing even more painful is the fact that the murders were committed by a group of people, by a nation, that was in the forefront of everything in Europe.  Whether you talked about science, whether you talked about art, whether you talked about anything, the German people were out there, and yet, people of that caliber were swede sufficiently to feel that murdering people was the thing to do for your country.  So when that happens to people like this, it can happen anywhere", said Koenig.  

In addition to the large crowd in the Lifelong Learning Center Wednesday night, Koenig spent the day talking to Kaskaskia College students.  He is the ninth presenter in the college's Teachers and Coaches Entrepreneurship Program.  

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