Holocaust Survivor, Fearing Genocide May Be Forgotten, Speaks Out


People who survived the Holocaust when they were young continue to speak out in Wisconsin, with messages for today’s younger generation.

Aaron Elster was nine years old when he and one of his sisters successfully fled a Nazi attack on their Jewish ghetto in Poland. Elster survived the rest of World War II by hiding in nearby forests and farms, and eventually spending nearly two years in the dark attic of a friendly Polish woman. Elster says the experience taught him perseverance.

“And tell this to young people – that we are much stronger than we give ourselves credit for. If we’re tested, we do things that we don’t think we can imagine.”

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But Elster does remain troubled by the Holocaust. Not only were millions of people killed, but Elster lost many relatives, including his parents and a younger sister.

“My little sister has been breaking my heart for most of my life. I’ve accepted my parent’s death, my grandparents, my aunts, my uncles, everybody around me. But she bothers me; she troubles me. Because I left her there, in the marketplace with my dad when I went away.”

Elster eventually came to Chicago and had a successful business career. But as he enters his 80s, he’s concerned there are fewer people left to share the horror of the Holocaust.

“Will the Holocaust just become a sentence in world war history? Because there are people out there denying it ever happened. And that’s why it’s incumbent on people like me to speak.”

Elster spoke this week at Alverno College in Milwaukee, as part of the school’s annual Holocaust remembrance service.