There is an entire world out there, waiting to question, to learn, to absorb, to understand. In this online world, oftentimes, voices get muted or diluted thanks to the mass amounts of content being pumped out every nanosecond.
However, for me, on March 12, I was able to touch the minds of many, thanks to hosting an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit.com.
For two hours, I answered questions sent to me from users all over the world. Most wanted to know one thing: what was it like to survive the Holocaust? And, what can I do now to help ensure these atrocities are never committed again?
The conversation was touching. Inspiring. It filled me with such happiness as there was genuine curiosity.
These people. In a world where information is thrown at them without a second thought, wanted to learn and to let me know they are there, supporting survivors, supporting our efforts.
During the AMA, I shared my story of surviving the Holocaust and being liberated. I also recounted the events which led me to meet my liberators at an event later in life.
The comments people made touched me, and the conversation was uplifting and inspiring. To see these strangers come together to support me touched me incredibly.
It was further proof for me to solidify my goal of making “I-SHOUT-OUT” an international campaign, touching the lives of millions. The people who participated in the AMA conversation with me echo my desires – to speak out against intolerance, injustice, racism and bullying. To send a message to the world that no one should be a bystander, that voices can be heard, and people are ready to change to make the world a better place.
What did the participants have to say?
“This is one of the first and only comments on reddit that has ever brought tears to my eyes. I’m sad and happy for you all at the same time. What an experience you lived through. Thank you for doing this AMA.” via Peantbuttajellytime
“Such emotion, captured and iterated so well. To see the perspective of someone who lived through this, and is making their life about not forgetting it. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to think about it so much after having the emotional scars from it.” Via Kim_Jon_Oong
“Getting to hear this kind of story is why I think Reddit is special.” via Fish_Oil_Burp
“Having lost my mother traumatically at the age of 3, it’s hard for me the fathom the kind of trauma that comes with losing so many of your family members in such a violent, sudden, and yet calculated way. I’m so grateful that you speak out about what happened because these are things no one should forget. I’m also happy that there are happy memories later on. Thank you for this AMA.” via Aurrorapenoy
“Your story of being separated from your family is probably the most profoundly heart-wrenching thing I’ve read. Words cannot express how sorry I am that you and so many others like you had to experience something so horrifying.
Yet, your story…your life is inspirational. The fact that you found happiness in your family, your “new life” is wonderful.
Thank you for sharing. I will not forget.” via Stayfun
“This made me very sad, I am German, my father is Armenian and I grew up in many many countries. We learn a lot about the horrible things the nazis did in school, in germany… We see movies, reenactments of these events, we see pictures of the aftermath and we hear 3rd hand stories. It got easier to just hear it in history class to us, the students it was just a story, almost fictional in our minds we couldn’t fathom the cruelty of people in this world and to this point the history my teachers taught me, were just that… Stories. But reading your answers here, putting myself in your situation in imagination, makes me realize to an unparalleled magnitude, how cruel the past has been to the world. Nobody, not one single person should have to go through what you and many other people have gone through. I have children, five and two.. And I want a better world for them. I don’t know if you ever will read this but if ever you do, I am truly sorry for the heartache you, your family and everyone around you had to suffer at the hands of the nazis. Please carry on what you do, you are an amazing person.” via exiscute
“My grandparents survived the camps, and later came to America. Thanks for telling your story. You’re doing important work, friend.” via Offthe rocks
“I think it is beautiful what you wrote here. I have often wondered how people were able to survive the Holocaust and then able to go on living. It is amazing and inspires me in a way I find hard to describe. Thank you for sharing your story.” via Carolsgirl
“Please know that my grandfather’s story and now yours will be passed on to my daughter and and on to her children when she grows older. Your mission to never forget will live on.” via Brian1982IL
There were so many more comments from participants that touched me, which brought tears to my eyes, and which reminded me of the good in people. If you weren’t able to participate but want to read and comment now, visit the I Am Ben Lesser AMA Reddit thread.
Once again. Thank you for listening. Because as listeners you bear witness to tell the stories long after I could. And thank you Reddit for allowing me to share my story.
To read more of my Reddit session, visit I Am Ben Lesser AMA Reddit thread.
And don’t forget to SHOUT-OUT for what you believe in TODAY: www.i-shout-out.org.
To learn more about Ben Lesser, please visit www.zachorfoundation.org.