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March 7, 2014

Holocaust survivor tells her story at FH middle school

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Gabrielle Kuholski
Staff Writer

Guest speaker Wanda Wolosky, Holocaust survivor, engages with Colonel Smith Middle School eighth grade students, sharing her story of life in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II. Classes gathered in the school student union area Feb. 27 to hear the personal account.

Colonel Smith Middle School eighth grade students received a first-hand account of the Holocaust Feb. 27 as they listened to Wanda Wolosky, guest speaker and Holocaust survivor, tell her story.

The middle school students frequently sat on the edge of their seats inside the student union area as Wolosky recalled the details of what she endured inside the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland as a child during World War II. When the Nazis invaded Poland, she was 5.

While she and other family members avoided being sent to the concentration camps, day-to-day life was a struggle. Wolosky recalled how starvation started immediately. Individuals were permitted food rations of 184 calories per day.

Wolosky explained how food smuggling was a reality, even for women and children, but it was a risky task punishable by death. While she participated as a food smuggler, luckily she was never caught.

She described the ghetto as a prison, surrounded by high walls with broken glass preventing people from escaping the disease and starvation. Those who did leave the ghetto left for an even crueler existence in a concentration camp.

However, Wolosky never heard about the concentration camps until after the war. She recalled how 6,000 Jews boarded trains every day and they would never come back. Fortunately, Wolosky’s mother was able to relocate the family frequently, sometimes seeking the help of generous strangers for shelter and food.

One day Wolosky made herself a promise. “I was going to be strong, and I was going to survive,” she said.

At the end of the war, Wolosky, her mother, three cousins and an uncle survived. While she and her mother remained in the ghetto, her uncle and father fled to Russia. Her father was killed by the Germans, but her uncle survived as a prisoner in Siberia.

Post-war, she has lived in Israel and later moved to the United States. When Wolosky was 18, she enlisted in the Israeli Army and served two years. As a soldier she joined the military police K-9 unit.

In 1957, Wolosky arrived in the United States at the invitation of her grandmother. She remained in the country marrying her husband, a Brooklyn native, and has two children and three grandchildren.

Wolosky never shared her story of survival with her children until several years ago. Today she travels across the nation telling about the ordeal, especially to young audiences.

“I hope that they can take my legacy and keep it alive,” Wolosky said, referring to the middle school students. “Not many of us are left to tell our stories.”

Wolosky also published a memoir on the Holocaust titled, “After All: Life Can Be Beautiful.”

After the program ended, many Colonel Smith Middle School students came up to Wolosky to personally thank her and express how moved they were by her story. Devin Dubois, 13, handed Wolosky a bouquet of flowers to show his gratitude.

This year the Days of Remembrance will take place April 27 – May 4. The week is a national commemoration of the Holocaust.




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