TAMPA — Holocaust survivor Marie Silverman will never stop telling people, especially the younger generation, the pain and suffering she endured when she was just nine years old.
Every time Silverman tells her story, she is transported back in time. Her memories are just as vivid as they were all those years ago. She is taken back to the places where she hid from the Germans, the gap in the barbed wire fence where she made a daring escape with her mother and sister from a concentration camp.
“Very emotional for me… my grandparents' aunts and uncles were all executed by the Nazis,” Silverman said.
ABC Action News showed Silverman new statistics released by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
They interviewed 1,350 American adults in February recruited by telephone and an online non-probability sample.
Two-thirds of American millennials surveyed in a recent poll cannot identify what Auschwitz is.
When asked to identify what Auschwitz is, 41 percent of respondents and 66 percent of millennials could not come up with a correct response identifying it as a concentration camp or extermination camp.
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum says that at least 1.3 million people were deported to the camp, run by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland, from 1940 to 1945, and 1.1 million of them were killed. It was the largest concentration camp among many built by the Nazis during their campaign to wipe out the Jews and other groups.
“What you are telling me is really unbelievable that today they shouldn’t know about it,” Silverman said. “They don’t know about it. Kids read it, it doesn’t mean a thing, it’s a piece of paper. But when they see me speaking, come up to me and they touch me, it’s real to them.”
Silverman told us sharing her story is the best weapon she has to battle evil so this type of genocide never happens again.
“We can begin to learn to respect each other,” she told a group of University of Tampa students a day before Israel’s 70th Independence day.
“You can begin to make that difference...keep the stories you hear about Holocaust survivors alive.”