BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Holocaust victims and survivors were honored at Buffalo's City Hall Thursday. Mayor Byron Brown and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz were joined by members of the Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo, the Jewish Federation of Great Buffalo and members of the Jewish Community.
They gathered for a candle-lighting ceremony to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day.
93-year-old martin and 87-year-old Elizabeth Lewin of Williamsville survived the Holocaust. They were lucky - their families managed to secure sponsors and escape Nazi Germany to the United States. Martin was about 13, Elizabeth was just 7-years old.
"My parents found a spot for my brother and me to escape on the Kindertransport on England and that's all I remember," reflected Elizabeth Lewin.
Martin Lewin recalls being forced to leave public schools and transfer into a private school. Even then, he was still harassed by bullies who would wait for him outside.
"Life was very precarious. You were aware that you were not wanted every where, and so you were restricted and pretty much able to stay home most of the time until we were able to escape and come to the United States," Lewin remembered.
But fast-forward more than eight decades later, anti-Semitism continues with Jewish communities are under attack. Last weekend a shooter opened fire inside a
California synagogue - killing one person and injuring three. For the Lewins it's horrifying. Martin says it sends shivers down his spine.
"It's just a horrific experience," Mr. Lewin declared.
"We are horrified and wonder why and we think these people must be mentally deranged to shoot innocent bystanders," remarked Mrs. Lewin.
The Lewin's say they're committed to trying to end the hatred and teach new generations about living through the Holocaust. They both speak at schools telling students what it was like to live at a time when family members and friends were hauled off to Nazi concentration camps and never seen again.
"All the members of the family that perished in concentration camps - such as my grandparents, my aunts, uncles, cousins. We were able to get out just before the worst of it, but they could not get out in time," explained Martin Lewin.
In face of renewed hatred toward Jews and racism - the Lewins want Americans to face it head on.
"To stand their ground when they see injustice being done. To avoid bullying anyone – to defend our freedom anyway possible," Martin Lewin stated.