It started on Sept. 1, 1939, more than 2,000 tanks and over 1,000 planes, broke through Polish defenses along the border and advanced on Warsaw. Within weeks the Polish army was defeated.
Pawel Lichter, a survivor of the German invasion of Poland, shared his life story with the members of 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) during the Holocaust Day of Remembrance May 2.
The United States Congress established the Days of Remembrance as the nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust. This year the Holocaust Days of Remembrance went from April 27-May 4, 2014.
“What inspired me to speak about my experiences and why I joined this group of survivors, was I wanted to let people know what happened,” said Lichter.
Lichter recounted his story to the members of 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern). His story includes descriptions about his uncle being tortured and murdered, his family being granted permits allowing them to relocate, narrowly escaping a firing squad, as well as his journey from Poland to Eastern Europe, Asia, Central American, and the U.S.
“Mine is a story about luck, and more luck,” said Lichter. “I was able to make it through with most of my family. My grandparents and several of my friends were not so lucky and didn’t make it out of Poland.”
Events throughout Davis-Monthan AFB were targeted at reminding base members of this moment in history and to honor the memory of the more than 9 million victims who perished in the Holocaust.
When asked about the lessons he passes down to children and grandchildren based on his experiences Lichter responded with, “Respect and live in peace.”
This year’s theme for the Holocaust Days of Remembrance is Confronting the Holocaust. For more information about this year’s official theme and annual commemoration of the Holocaust, please visit http://www.ushmm.org/remember/days-of-remembrance/2014-days-of-remembrance.