UW received a visit from Holocaust survivors Eva and Leslie Miesels Nov. 9.
In honour of Holocaust survivor week, the couple of 50 years spoke together on their respective experiences of WWII in Hungary.
Eva Miesels was born in 1939 in Budapest. Some of her earliest memories include living in the Budapest Jewish ghetto, taking refuge with well-known humanitarian Raoul Wallenberg and later, her reunion with her father after several years of separation.
Her husband, Leslie, was born in 1927 and spent his adolescence in a Jewish ghetto. There, he was forced to work on a farm at both Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and Auschwitz before his liberation.
In January 1945, Leslie watched from within the gates of Auschwitz as a foreign tank emerged from the horizon, as yells erupted from the crowds within the confines.
She recalled hearing others saying, “oh, God. We are free.”
Leslie had lost 100 pounds from starvation during his four months at Auschwitz.
Around the same time, Eva was huddled with other children in the corner of the basement of a house in Budapest when a man in a foreign uniform and a machine gun slung across his chest walked down the stairs.
“He reached out his hand with a piece of bread… This was my liberation,” she recalled.
Both of the Miesels survived the Holocaust, along with their immediate families – neither lost their parents or siblings during the course of WWII.
“I owe my survival to miracles, acts of faith, and acts of God”, said Leslie.
The Miesels also spoke of the importance of equality and love, saying they hoped to raise children that would grow to have no hatred in their hearts.
The couple spoke with grace, poise, and humour on the importance of sharing their stories, as difficult as it may be, to remind people of the devastating events of the Holocaust and the power of hatred.
The Miesels closed the talk saying, “Remember what you heard. Don’t forget it. And don’t let it happen again.”