Many Holocaust survivors dedicate their lives to sharing their stories in hopes that something like the Holocaust never happens again.
One of those survivors spoke in La Crosse Thursday. Cipora Katz was just four-years-old when she was forced to flee her home to escape Nazi SS in Poland. Cipora got away with her father and other family members, and hid in a hole near a farm in Poland. "All we did is hold hands, pray in Hebrew and counted each day of our survival," said Cipora. "My father continuously kept on telling me not to cry and not to talk loud for the fear of being hurt."
Occasionally eating potatoes to stay alive. It was too much for Cipora's father, who passed away a year into the ordeal. At five years old Cipora didn't notice right away, and layed next to her father's body for seven days. "I thought that he was just so sick and couldn't answer me," said Cipora, "so I laid right next to him, covered him and me with my blanket, and prayed to God to get better."
The rest of the group lived for almost two years in that hole. When they were liberated Cipora learned that along with her father, her mother, sister, and grandparents did not survive.
She eventually moved to the United States and now travels the country sharing her story. We sat down with Cipora Thursday afternoon and she told us why she tells her story after all these years.
“As long as God keeps me strong and alive, my mission is to do it and educate everyone how to prevent future discrimination, bigotry and hatred regardless of one’s race, religion or sexual orientation in all ages," Cipora said.
Cipora says she still shares her story because it's important that people never forget the horrors of the Holocaust.
"I also emphasize to them that the Holocaust did not start with the gas chambers but with bullying, physical and verbal abuse," Cipora said. "Therefore, it’s up to everyone to take a stand with me against bullying and be a positive strong proud individual to help others because even one individual can make a difference."
She knows many survivors are passing away each year, and tells young people that they are the last generation to hear about the Holocaust from someone who actually lived through it.
"When I talk to the young generation, which I always do, I indicate because they are the next generation to hear an actual survivor, it is incumbent upon them to share my presentation and other survivors from their generation and generations to come."
We will have more from our interview with Cipora Katz this Sunday on News 8 at Ten.