HOUSTON – Students from Houston and Pasadena schools received a living history lesson Monday at Holocaust Museum Houston.
The museum commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the largest Nazi concentration and death camp in World War II. In 2005, the United Nations General Assembly designated Jan. 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
About a hundred students from grade 6th through 9th from Wharton Dual Language Academy and Dobie High School got a rare opportunity to hear from a Holocaust survivor and a World War II veteran who helped stop the Nazi offensive in the Battle of the Bulge.
“Six million got killed and I’m a lucky one,” said 93-year-old survivor Charles Kurt.
Kurt said fled Nazi-occupied Austria as a teen, eventually ending up in Houston. He recalled the last time he saw his father, who ended up in a concentration camp.
“He came to me and kissed me and embraced me and said, 'Do me a favor. Remember that you have a father, somewhere in this world, who loves you very very much,” Kurt said.
Birney “Chick” Havey was just 20 years old when he joined the United States Army in 1942.
“We killed people, that was our job. I have lots of medals, I was brave and I was never afraid to die,” Havey said.
He said he still has a hard time comprehending the atrocities of the Holocaust.
“How could a thing like that happen to a whole population?” he said.
Students said learning from the two men was something they won’t forget.
“Everyone always hears about the atrocities that happened, but to get first-hand experience is just a whole different thing,” said Dobie High School 9th grader, Jacob Montez.
The commemoration continues Monday at 6:30 p.m. at HMH with a panel discussion on the moral obligation of the international community featuring Consul Generals of Israel, Germany and Japan.