'We will never forget'
By Lance Cpl. Jared Plotts
| | April 13, 2004
U.S. MARINE CORPS FORCES PACIFIC, CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii --
Dr. William Samelson, professor emeritus, author and holocaust survivor, spoke at the holocaust observance ceremony at the base chaplain’s building here April 8.
Marines, their families and others attended the ceremony. They listened in silence and with great respect to the moving and intensely detailed speech by Dr. Samelson.
“My mother, older brother, younger sister and I were in a mass crowd outside the ghetto, and the man in the front had a meter stick. He was measuring children to see if they were big enough to work in the slave camps, or just be shipped off to the death camps,” Dr. Samelson’s voice became shaky as he continued.
“The guard stepped in front of my mother and hit her. He said in German to ‘throw that piece of trash away.’ He was talking about my sister who was not tall enough to work in the slave camps.”
He paused as tears slowly ran down his worn face. He pressed on, “She knew right away and went to the left, to the death camp, my mother was only 30-years-old and a beautiful lady. That was the first time I heard, ‘you can never forget’,” Dr. Samelson uttered.
He was only a young boy at the time.
Selected audience members read individual tales of those who died during the holocaust following the hour-long speech. A heart-breaking story was read for every million deaths.
They read six stories.
Dr. Samelson stayed afterward and signed copies of his book, an eye-opening biographical novel on his saga. He also took photographs with Marines and their families.
Officials hope to have Dr. Samelson back next year. Samelson said he would be delighted. Along with the Marines, he also visited soldiers and sailors here on the island.
“I’m in the winter of my life. I have read, written and spoken about this phenomenon, this holocaust, and it is still unbelievable to me. I will never understand.”