The Kindness of the Hangman

Photos by Patricia Williams

May 5, 2015: Fifty-five students, teachers and guests listened in awe of Dr. Henry Oster, Holocaust survivor, as he shared his story at the STF Year-End Leadership Workshop. Graduating STF intern Alexa Mencia said, “An experience like meeting Dr. Oster would have significantly shaped my course of study and action as a high school student.”

As a young teen, Henry and his mother survived deprivation in the Lodz Ghetto, thanks to the kindness of the Ghetto’s hangmen who gave him extra bread, only to be later separated in a life-or-death selection in the Birkenau extermination camp. Shortly before his liberation from Buchenwald on April 11, 1945, Henry made it through a firing squad in Auschwitz, being strafed by an Allied fighter, and starvation.

“A ‘seed,’ or ‘kernel’ is all it takes to see something blossom into widespread killing. The task that you have is to avoid apathy through awareness…” Henry said to encourage STFers to continue fighting for human rights. “The idea of living with intent to teach like you do, to teach avoidance like you do, is a life task and thank you for doing it!”

Learn more about Henry from his book: The Kindness of the Hangman!

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