Survivor recalls horrors of Holocaust and testifies about anti-Semitism

Holocaust survivor Magda Bader describes the horrors she lived through. Many members of her immediate family did not survive. Credit: The Florida Channel

A living reminder of the horrors of the Holocaust testified Thursday that she is grateful to have survived and wants the Holocaust to be forever remembered and never repeated.

“Every day I think of the horrors we went through,” said Magda Bader, age 90, of Miami.

Florida senators listened solemnly to her testimony in support of legislation to strengthen Holocaust education and resist anti-Semitism in Florida.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, a German-occupied death camp in Poland from which Bader said she escaped at the age of 15. Her parents, a sister and a young niece did not survive.

Sen. Lauren Book, a Broward County Democrat, is sponsoring legislation to expand Holocaust education in public schools, designate the second week of November as Holocaust Education Week, among other measures.

Bader said her parents and siblings were forced from their home in Hungary in 1944 and separated into various concentration camps.

“Towards ’44, for us it was terrible. We got an order in ’44: 24 hours to leave our home and move into another neighborhood which they made into a ghetto,” Bader said. “We had no idea that Auschwitz existed, that concentration camps existed. I was 14 years old when this happened.”

Her family was loaded into a train of cattle cars, packed 100 people to a car, she recalled.

“The destination was Auschwitz. It was a death camp. Millions and millions of people were killed there,” Bader said.

Overcome by nationalist fervor and led by a racist maniac, Germans became Nazi mass murderers, she said.

“They believe that they can kill people just because they are of a different religion or a different religious group … shooting them or gassing them,” Bader said.

Teaching future generations how the Holocaust happened and the outcome could prevent it from occurring again, advocates of Holocaust education say.

Senators on the Appropriations Committee agreed. They all stood for a moment of silence in tribute to victims and survivors and unanimously approved Book’s legislation, allowing it to head for a vote in the full Senate.