ISLIP, N.Y. — Thursday is Holocaust Remembrance Day, recalling one of the darkest periods of history and the genocidal killing of 6 million Jews.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reports, aging survivors are on a mission to make sure the world never forgets.
There are 275,000 Holocaust survivors still living today. Their numbers are dwindling, yet at 93, Edith Gross is tireless in her mission.
“They took away licenses from all Jews. They were not allowed to have businesses,” she said. “In school, children started to yell, ‘Dirty Jew.'”
The Islip great-grandmother says she will speak about the atrocities she survived for the rest of her days, how small acts of antisemitism quickly escalated into the extermination of 6 million Jews.
Gross, at 15, was rounded up with her family and stuffed into cattle cars to death camps.
“They didn’t give us food, they didn’t give us water and they locked us in,” she said.
At Auschwitz, she lied about her age to be selected for a labor camp rather than the gas chamber, her fate determined by the infamous Dr. Mengele.
“He just motioned with his stick. If you went this way, you went to death, this way, this way, you were alive,” Gross said.
On Thursday, she spoke to the town of Islip Unity Council.
“To remind the world what happens when hate goes unanswered,” said Rabbi Shimon Stillerman, with Chabad of Islip. “How do you respond to hate? By doing good.”
One third of the world’s Jews were systematically murdered. Gross’ twin brothers, a sister, grandparents and 100 relatives were never seen again.
“The day I was liberated, I said to myself, my God, everybody is gone,” Gross said.
Eventually, she reunited with her father in the United States. She says she will share her message for as long as she can.
“We are all the same. I mean, look at the person, not a religion. I mean, that shouldn’t be something that you hate,” she said. “This can happen and can happen again.”
Antisemitic incidents surged in 2021. “Never forget” is more than a slogan. It’s a call to action.
Holocaust Remembrance Day, called Yom HaShoah, was observed in Israel on Thursday with sirens and two minutes of silence where public activity came to a standstill.