Arcadia Welcomes Holocaust Survivor at Remembrance Event

By Caitlin Burns | May 2, 2017

Photo by Felicia Hall ’19

By Felicia Hall ’19

The Arcadia University community gathered on April 25 for the second annual Remembering the Holocaust event, co-hosted by Arcadia Hillel and the Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice Department. The remembrance event provided students an outlet to commemorate the millions who suffered and died between 1939 and 1945.

More than 30 attendees heard keynote speaker Joseph Kahn, a Holocaust survivor, tell his story before presentations by Dr. Joanne Lucena, associate professor of Modern Languages; Dr. Dina Pinksy, associate professor of Sociology; and Kami Knapp, Rabbinic intern.

“I have wounds that will never heal,” said Kahn. “I’ve talked about my experience for all of these years because the feedback touched my soul. It is a profound feeling of doing something good by educating the present generation.”

Kahn, born in Poland in 1922, was 17 when Germany invaded Poland in 1939. He considers his family lucky—their worst experience occurred in 1942, when thousands of Jewish members of his community were forced to stay on a soccer field with no food or water. Over several days, German soldiers ordered the crowd, one-by-one, to move to the left or right side of the field—those to the left were taken away, those to the right were safe. On the second day, Kahn, his mother, father, and two siblings all made it to the right side.

At the end of 1942, Kahn was to be delivered to the Nazis. He and his family hid for days before being caught and taken to a concentration camp. He was moved from several camps until liberation came in 1945. Seven years later, his brother found him in a hospital and, shortly after, moved with him to America.

When asked if he has been back to Europe, Kahn said, “1991 was the first time I went back. I never planned on going back but I went to Poland. I realized it was getting later in my life and I wanted to see the place that I was raised in.”

In 1980, Congress passed legislation to establish the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. The council carried out a recommendation to establish a day of remembrance of Holocaust victims. Remembering the Holocaust is internationally recognized on the 27th day of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar.