During my travels in Up With People, I had the opportunity to visit two concentration camps in Germany: Auschwitz and Buchenwald. What I remember the most fro these visits are the images and stories on display and how incredibly sick to my stomach I felt about just a few minutes in these camp.
A month ago, I had the opportunity to hear a first person account of this tragic and horrific time in our world’s history. Aaron Elster, a child survivor of the Holocaust, came to my hometown and share his story. Joined by my wife, three children and more than 300 other people, we sat in silence as Aaron told his story about how he escaped the liquidation of the Sokolow Ghetto.
It is a pleasure to have him as our guest this week. I am grateful for his time and generosity.
About Aaron Elster
Aaron Elster is a child survivor of the Holocaust. He was born in 1933 in the small northeastern village of Sokolow, Podlaski in Poland. Aaron lived in the Sokolow Ghetto with his two sisters, mother and father until the liquidation of the ghetto in September, 1942.
He escaped the liquidation and hid in the surrounding forests and farms. Eventually, Aaron found refuge in the attic of a Polish family, where he hid for two years until the war’s end.
After the war, he lived in several orphanages throughout Poland, and eventually was smuggled out of Poland to various DP camps in West Germany. He and his sister Irene came to the United States in June 1947.
He was educated in Chicago and served in the armed forces in Korea. Aaron has been married to his wife Jackie for more than 55 years. They have two sons, Steven and Robert, and three grandchildren, Sarah, Allison and Jacob.
After retiring from MetLife, he became an active member of the community, serving as co-chairman of the Speakers Bureau and Vice President of the Executive Board at the Holocaust Memorial Foundation of Illinois. His presentations touch adults and children alike, and his open and loving style creates extensive discussions and interactive exploration of the Holocaust and its issues. Within his presentation, Aaron challenges young people to explore their strengths and encourages them to be the master of their destiny, realizing that they have the power to change their world.Images courtesy of Aaron Elster and www.aaronelster.com. © All rights reserved. Used with permission.