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  • Jordan Monroe

Holocaust survivor visits Coastal Carolina

On Monday, March 12, Coastal Carolina had two guest speakers come to talk about their own personal experiences during the Holocaust.

One speaker was Lilly Filler, the daughter of Jadzia and Ben Stern who were survivors of the holocaust and is also the Chairman of the South Carolina Holocaust Council.

The second guest speaker was Hugo Schiller, a Holocaust survivor when he was just a little boy.

Lilly Filler was born in Munich, Germany after World War II. When the war began, she and her parents left Germany for America. She was just two years old.

When they arrived in America in 1949, their first stop was Ellis Island. She described the conditions on Ellis Island to be “really poorly run and it was very dirty."

She also founded the Columbia Holocaust Education Commission, which educates children from grades K-12 all throughout the state of South Carolina in hopes of inspiring them to never forget the Holocaust.

Hugo Schiller was born in Grunsfeld, Germany in 1931, which is an area his family had lived for many generations and described his time in the area as "peaceful" and "nice".

Until one night, the Nazis’ had started to loot Jewish shops. This night would eventually be known as “Kristallnacht” or “the Night of Broken Glass” where the Nazis not only destroyed Jewish shops but Synagogues as well. His father had gone outside and made a speech as the Nazis started marching towards them with their torches.

When he was in second grade, his mother had told him when he got home from school that his father and brothers were taken by Nazi guards and was told that his uncle had been killed. His father was taken to the Dachau Concentration Camp.

His family eventually moved to Frankfurt, but it wasn’t long until the Nazis came for them and said they only have an hour to pack one single bag. They were put on a truck and were taken to an assembly where they then were put on a train heading to the Gurs Concentration Camp in Poland. At the camp, he was put in the camp for women so he could stay with his mother.

They eventually escaped the camp where his family eventually fled to France. His parents took him to a shelter for children in Aspet, France because it was the safest place for him. He and a group of children were picked to leave France for America when he was 12 years old.

He and the children were escorted by a police guard to Casablanca, but he decided to shortly abandon them. They were then put on a ship and traveled to first Morocco, then to Bermuda, until finally they ended up in Baltimore.

In 1946, he was told his parents were transported to Auschwitz and had passed away. Throughout the rest of his life, he served in the Korean War and had a very strong passion for boxing.

“The best way to continue to never forget the Holocaust is to just acknowledge that there is a lot of antisemitism in this world, " said Fuller. "It does happen and when it does happen it should never be forgotten and we should never stop fighting it. The Holocaust survivors will continue to not forget what happened and we will always be ready for the anti-Semitism.”

For those who want to help raise awareness, the Butterfly Project is where people from all over make ceramic butterflies to represent the life of each child that had perished during the Holocaust and the children that survived. There is also a Butterfly Project Memorial at Market Commons that students can visit to pay their respects.

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