GLEN COVE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Stories right out of history came alive on Thursday for dozens of students on Long Island.
Six survivors of the Holocaust visited an elementary school in Glen Cove to speak firsthand about survival, and to make sure their stories are never lost.
Every question asked came with an answer, and every fifth grader left Connolly Elementary School wiser for knowing more about one of the darkest eras in human history.
“I went through four concentration camps, so it’s impossible to tell them everything that I went through,” survivor Sally Birnbaum said.
The 96-year-old Birnbaum did her best to explain how she was the only one in her family to survive — her six siblings and both parents died in those camps. On Thursday, she retold the last words her father said to her.
“You go and try to survive,” she recalled him saying. “You don’t have to stay together, but make sure one of you survive so you can tell the story about us.”
At least 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust, with each survivor carrying their own story. 87-year-old Ruth Meador last saw her parents when she was just seven-years-old, and she says their instructions kept her alive.
“I never had to worry about what I was doing,” she said. “I knew what I was doing was what they taught me, and it was the right thing to do and I would survive.”
The students have been learning about the Holocaust in school for weeks, but the special presentation gave them a brand new perspective.
“I’m Jewish too, so this matters a lot to me,” 11-year-old Natalie Macnow said.
Macnow was overcome with emotions as she gave each survivor a hug.
“It’s very important for young people to know history,” survivor Tina Kamin said. “God forbid it should ever happen again.”
The survivors all live at a center in Suffolk County called Gurwin Jewish. Directors there say only 400 Holocaust survivors remain in the county, and around 6,000 are left in the Tri-State area.