My name is Ben Lesser, and I am a Holocaust Survivor.
What this means is that for some reason, unlike more than six million other innocent Jewish people, I did not die during Hitler Germany’s Third Reich. These lives were eliminated from the face of the earth as if they didn’t have any value.
As if they didn’t matter. It also means that throughout the over 66 years since I was liberated from the Dachau Concentration Camp, I have never stopped wondering why my life was spared. And I have never stopped grieving for those who were lost. The Hebrew word ZACHOR means “Remember,” and we remaining Survivors are determined to make sure the world never forgets that every life matters.
While I was lucky enough to survive the camps, come to America, live in freedom, fall in love, marry and raise a beautiful family, work hard and achieve the “American Dream,” my heart and soul have at the same time, inhabited a world shadowed by sorrow. And in my mind there are questions that have never been answered. You might be surprised to learn that my first unanswered question is not, Why did that insane Hitler try to destroy the Jewish People? Instead, my ﬁrst unanswered question is, Why did the so-called sane world stand by and let this Genocide happen?
Having experienced the savagery of genocide ﬁrst-hand as a child, while living in a supposedly modern, cultured, European country, I also have two additional questions: One: What are the circumstances and choices that led up to this and other genocides? And two: What must we do to prevent it from happening again? Anywhere.