Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

March 25, 2014

Creating survivors, one group at a time

Holocaust victim talks to English students at Fallsburg

Lana Bellamy
The Independent

FALLSBURG — Holocaust survivor Morris Price made survivors out of everyone listening to his personal story about his time in Auschwitz at Fallsburg Elementary School on Monday.

“When you listen to a Holocaust survivor, you become a Holocaust survivor,” he said.

Price, an 86-year-old from California, shared his past via webcam and answered questions from sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students in the library.

Seventh- and eighth-grade English teacher Benji Adkins worked the meeting into his lessons about the Holocaust, in which students read “The Diary of Anne Frank” and Lois Lowry’s “Number the Stars.”

Adkins said students spent the days leading up to their meeting with Price preparing insightful questions.

“I tried to ask my kids to go into this session with this in mind: ‘You’re 12 to 14 years old. Think of what you would possibly be going through, what would your thoughts be? He was the same age while he was there,’” Adkins said.

Price lived in Maniek, Poland, and was taken to Auschwitz in Southern Poland by German Nazi soldiers with a pack of fellow Jews when he was 12.

He said they were loaded into cattle train cars and transported to the camp, spending several days without food or water.

Price spent three years in Auschwitz, a network of concentration camps containing mostly Jewish prisoners. While there, Nazis performed human experiments, forced them to endure brutal labor and routinely committed violence and executions.

Of the three camps, Price was sent to Auschwitz II-Birkenau, the extermination site where nearly 4 million Jews died in gas chambers or by gunfire.

Auschwitz is now a memorial museum, which Price revisited several years later.

While there, he said he met a fellow survivor from Auschwitz. When he asked her why she wanted to come back, she answered, “It helps me remember what I’d been through, but this time I can walk back out.”

But this was not the first time he returned to Germany.

Price was liberated from the camp in 1945, shortly after the most famous death march that led prisoners from Auschwitz in Poland to Wodzisław Śląski, Germany — a walk where 15,000 prisoners died from fatigue, wounds and starvation.

He came to the United States in 1949 and worked in Nashville before applying for citizenship. Shortly after, he became a citizen and was drafted into the U.S. Army for the Korean War.

As fate would have it, Price was sent to a post in Germany for two years.

“Here I had been in a German concentration camp and just a few years later, I am back in Germany as a soldier in the U.S. Army,” he said.

Seventh-grade student Amity Wilks asked Price if he ever felt like giving up while in Auschwitz.

“He had a hard life when he was a kid. I had it really good growing up, so it gives me a new appreciation for the way I live,” she said. “Like when he said he never cried — how did he not? I don’t understand.”

Tying all these experiences together, he wanted students to realize no matter what the situation they were all survivors.

“I told myself when I was in there that I can make it,” he said. “No matter how bad it can be, if you talk it over and tell yourself you can make it, you will survive anything.”

Price spoke to the students from the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles where he lives with his wife and son. He frequently shares his story with museum visitors.

LANA BELLAMY can be reached at lbellamy@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.