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April 25, 2014

Holocaust survivor tells her story

NORMAN — Eva Unterman saw black boots, guns and dogs. She did not understand the yelling or the violence. A young girl of 7, she only saw monsters in SS officers. Unterman did not understand until she was older that those SS officers were actually human.

“This is something we have to confront: that human beings are capable of such horrific acts,” Unterman said to a large group of students and community members while she told her story. Unterman lived through the horror of the Holocaust as a little girl and said she feels it’s her obligation to tell her story for all those who were murdered.

The University of Oklahoma student organization Sooners for Israel hosted the first Holocaust remembrance event on campus Thursday evening. With national Holocaust Remembrance Day this Monday, Sooners for Israel leaders said the event’s purpose was to preserve the legacy and let it become our heritage.

Yonatan Schmidt, Sooners for Israel president, said that soon the Holocaust would go from being a living memory to history, as those who lived through it are no longer with society.

“Let us make these stories become part of our collective DNA,” Schmidt said.

Unterman was the evening’s honored guest as she talked of life in the Jewish ghetto, concentration camps, slave labor shops, survival and liberation. Unterman grew up in Poland as an only child.

As the German occupation of Poland approached, Unterman only recalls the whispering of adults while her parents and grandparents played cards. She could sense something was wrong and, within days, the situation in her hometown, Lodz, changed.

“My father who was a businessman was not allowed to go to work. I couldn’t play in the park or walk on street walks,” Unterman said. “I had to wear the Star of David on the back and front of all my clothing — we were branded.”

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