Assemblyman Smyth’s office organizes effort to preserve history.
Tuesday night, two holocaust survivors, Eva and Sheldon Mars gathered before a small group of Santa Clarita High School students to share their memories of life during the holocaust.
The Santa Clarita married couple experienced life being Jewish under Nazi rule.
They spoke as part of the California State Holocaust Memorial Week, organized locally by Assemblyman Cameron Smyth’s office. A full podcast of the interview is available by clicking here.
While Eva and Sheldon experienced the holocaust from two different areas of the world, their stories share the same threads of maltreatment, exclusion, and hatred.
Eva’s family fled Germany, to the only place that they could get to; Shanghai, China, which was at that time controlled by the Japanese. There, they were forced to live in a ghetto, where Eva became very ill with Typhoid.
Sheldon was sent to the ghettos of Germany, before being transferred in a packed boxcar to Auschwitz. During the year he spent there, nearly his entire family was killed. He spent the rest of the war working in various camps, making ammunition, or digging ditches.
He recalled the non-stop work, and when asked how he survived, he replied simply: “We had no choice, because, you know, as much as I could do, I did,” he remembered. “I was brought up [physically] strong so I could survive, but a lot of people did not survive it.”
Eva looks back on the memories with equal horror. To this day she is still haunted. “I tell you the truth, I’m forcing myself to come here tonight, but I had to do it,” she said. “Because I get panic attacks when something triggers it…that’s the little girl up there.”
Sheldon was eventually liberated by the Russians, and he was taken in by a German woman. She nursed him back to health, and in exchange he answered the door whenever Russian soldiers would knock, saying that he lived in the residence. He did that to protect the woman from being raped by the soldiers.
Eva remembers her liberation, as the American soldiers came and sent the Japanese running.
Of course, amid all of the pain of their recollections, Eva and Sheldon still found some things to laugh about now. After Eva told of having to eat black beans with worms in the bowl, Sheldon jumped in; “It was good when there were worms, at least then you had some meat!”
But at the root of their appearance was a desire to spread the truth. “I think the main thing you should know is that it’s true, it happened,” Eva said. “Because there are some people who say it never happened and I don’t want you to think that.”
To hear their full story of survival, listen to the podcast by clicking here.
Cameron Smyth’s office will now put the story on paper, with the help of the volunteering students. In March, they will present this story, along with those gathered across the state, to be combined in a full collection of historical accounts of the Holocaust.
KHTS would like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Mars for their bravery in sharing their history with us.