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A Conversation With Holocaust Survivor Dr. Jacob Eisenbach

Greta Weber

There’s been a documented increase this year in hate speech and crimes against Jews. That’s according to the Anti-Defamation League. That trend is disturbing to Dr. Jacob Eisenbach who survived the Holocaust. He was rounded up as a teenager by Nazi soldiers in his native Poland. He went on to become a public speaker and Holocaust educator and is lecturing tonight at Northern Arizona University. KNAU’s Justin Regan had the chance to speak to him earlier about the cultivation of hatred. 

Justin Regan: What’s your take on this surge of white supremacy and neo-Nazism? Is this reminiscent of your experience leading up to the Holocaust?

Dr. Eisenbach: Those neo-Nazi gatherings are not very significant. Those people are failures in our society. They are not succeeding in life, they are not succeeding in employment. They’re not succeeding in contributing to American society. And the American people as a whole are not going to accept their ideas.

I’ve spoken to many American people since I came here 67 years ago. I love the American people. They are open minded. They are not accepting ideas of hatred, and those ideas of hatred that led directly to the Holocaust.

JR: You’re a survivor but you’re also an educator. What do you teach people about the Holocaust?

Eisenbach: One of the most important things that I teach is that people should not be accepting ideas of hatred and discrimination. Because it is those ideas that led directly to the Holocaust.

The other subject I’m talking about in my speeches is the subject of genocide. Throughout history of the last 4,000 years there have been many genocides, not only against the Jewish people but also against all kinds of races, religions and cultures. And genocides are happening to this day. But most of the world is against genocides and it’s about time we put our words into deeds.

JR: Is there an answer to this? Is there a way to reverse cultural hatred?

Eisenbach: The way to reverse cultural hatred is to educate people of what consequences hatred can cause. People have to understand how destructive accepting hatred can be.

After my speeches I have a question and answer period, and from the questions I can see that people are not aware of what happened during the Holocaust. And that is why I am dedicated to speaking on that subject. Because it is very important that people do not forget it. For the sake of our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren and all future generations. When I speak to high schools I tell them cherish their precious minds. And prevent themselves from accepting ideas of hatred.

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