By Patricia Naumann | Photos by Lucinda King and The Holocaust Center for Humanity
Seattle, Wash. – On Sunday, February 11, nearly 90 members of Seattle’s Wallingford United Methodist Church, including youth and other guests filled Taylor Hall to hear child holocaust survivor, Steven Adler. Adler is a Speaker’s Bureau member of co-presenter for The Holocaust Center for Humanity. He shared his story of survival and presented “With My Own Eyes”, a video of local Holocaust survivor recollections. Adler’s talk was also accompanied by personal and historical images.
“With My Own Eyes: Holocaust. Genocide. Today.” is a 20-minutes video resource produced by The Holocaust Center for Humanity.
Adler shares he is “deeply passionate about using his experiences, and the lessons of history, to implore listeners to combat hatred in their communities.” He does so for two reasons: he feels the need to give voice to the 90% of 1,600,000 Jewish children who perished; and Adler sees children in our schools today experiencing what he did. “Children who are different are singled out for bullying or other unacceptable behavior. And it’s exactly what happened to me.”
ABOUT STEVE ADLER
Born in 1930 to a middle-class Jewish family in Berlin, his mother’s family had resided in Germany for generations. Change began in 1933. At age 7, Steve was forced to leave his neighborhood school to a Jewish private school. In 1938 on the day after Kristallnacht, the SS and Gestapo rounded up 30,000 men and his father arrested and sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. He returned, roughened, six weeks later. As conditions continued to deteriorate, Steve was sent to join the KinderTransport – a program evacuating 10,000 Jewish children, unaccompanied by parents, from Nazi occupied countries to temporary foster care in Britain. Most children never saw their parents again. Miraculously, Steve’s family reunited in London in 1940 during the Blitz.
LEARNING MOMENTS, THEN & NOW
The presentation was impactful. Stan and Anne Willard were struck by images of regular citizens watching Jewish men being marched down the street to waiting box cars; looking at destroyed Jewish businesses; reading signs posted barring Jews from their professions, and doing nothing. Pervasive propaganda extended even to attractively illustrated children’s books depicting Jews as enemies out to destroy the world. Others outside the Nazi Aryan racial profile were also targeted for destruction.
The Willards were reminded of how bullying, intolerance of differences, and mass fear-instilling propaganda can be used to change public opinion and behavior. They also could draw parallels to our current national trends – like how social media is used to defame character, arouse suspicion, pass on lies. The Willards learned how stereotypes are used to arrest and detain people and how immigrants are deported while in the process of trying to become citizens.
The German people were vulnerable to a bullying leader because of terrible conditions imposed on them post-WW1. Relieving increasing desperation here and restoring our society to sustained wholeness is our best defense against similar forces.
“To hear someone speak who has a direct experience of Nazi cruelty makes the current events of our time seem more real, dangerous and worrisome,” offered Jeri Howe. Her husband Jon was deeply moved, adding, “The incredible journey through word and photos I would recommend to anyone.”
Wallingford UMC was honored to have Steven Adler with us. We thank him and the Holocaust Center for Humanity for its partnership in sharing his powerful story so we may never forget and will apply its lessons to the present.
For more information about the work of the Holocaust Center for Humanity, please visit their website at www.HolocaustCenterSeattle.org.
Learn more about the ministries of Wallingford UMC!