Holocaust Survivor Shares Story

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.  – Six million people were killed in the Holocaust.

Today, less than 100,000 survivors are still alive and that number is declining quickly.

One of those survivors is in Sioux Falls, bravely telling his story for those who can’t.

“If you say nothing, you get nothing,” said Ernie Gross. “If you say something, you never know where it’s going to lead you. That’s why I’m here, because I said something.”

Gross was born in 1929 in Romania, one of nine children. However, growing up wasn’t easy. Gross was the only Jew in his class.

The other children would tease him, putting their pork lunches on his mouth.

“What happened yesterday you have to forgive and forget,” said Gross.

When Gross was 15 years old, he was helping his mother make bread one morning. Then, the Hungarian government knocked on the door and took his family to a ghetto.

There, the government held the Jews captive without food, water, or indoor plumbing.

Then, Nazis crammed the Gross family into a train headed to Auschwitz. There, Nazis killed his parents and younger siblings.

Gross says no matter how painful it is to tell his story, he never turns down an invitation to speak anywhere.

“I made up my mind, no matter who ask me, even though I’m tired, I always say yes,” said Gross. “I go there.”

At Auschwitz, Gross was put to work. Once he became too weak, Nazis put him on another train where he headed to another concentration camp to be killed.

As he was waiting in line to die, with moments to spare, the camp was liberated and Gross survived.  

Gross says in life, he’s learned you must always do the right thing.

“If somebody’s asking for your help and you could do it, you have to help them,” said Gross.  

The 89-year-old now lives in Philadelphia. His message is one of love.

“Everybody has to love everybody,” said Gross.

Although Gross lost most of his family in the Holocaust, he was able to have a family of his own.

He has three children and two grandchildren.

When he isn’t helping others or speaking to young people, he enjoys watching Judge Judy.

The Chabad Jewish Center of South Dakota teamed up with Augustana University to host Gross.

For more information: https://www.jewishsd.org/never-forget-never-again.html

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