By Joey Defalco – Reporter
Holocaust Center for Humanity speaker Matthew Erlich talked about his mother’s life as a concentration camp captive and survivor to promote speaking out against intolerance at an APB-hosted event in the Gaiser Student Center on March 13.
“If you don’t take sides, you’re helping the oppressor,” Erlich said.
With videos of his mother, Felicia Lewkowicz, and a slideshow of black and white photos, Erlich recounted his mother’s story of being kidnapped in a ghetto in Krakow, Poland, her encampment in Auschwitz and her relocation to and eventual liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Of her eight family members, only she and her sister Lola survived the War.
When talking about his mother’s time at Auschwitz Erlich represented the survivors of the Holocaust by having attendees stand and sit based on criteria he listed such as athleticism and familial status. Of the dozens of attendees, only three remained standing.
He said to the seated audience members, “You are all a statistic.”
He told attendees about his mother’s untreated PTSD from the Holocaust, which manifested as excessive worry for her children and what he called “Holocaust humor.”
“I used to ride the trains for free, too,” she said to an ex-train-hopper according to Erlich, referring to her rides to concentration camps.
Lewkowicz died peacefully in Portland in 2009 at 84 years old.
The ASCC provided pizza for attendees.