On Wednesday night, the Rowan Office of Social Justice, Inclusion and Conflict Resolution held another installment of their “Dining with Diversity” series. This week’s event hosted David Tuck, a holocaust survivor who recounted his experiences in the Mauthausen-Gusen and Auschwitz concentration camps.
Tuck was barely in his teens when the Holocaust began. Born in Poland, his mother died when he was six months old, and shortly after that, his father left him in the care of his grandparents before remarrying. His father later reunited with Tuck when he was eight, and brought him back to live with him and his new family.
When the Nazis came to power, Tuck and his family were first moved into the Lodz Ghetto in Poland, and then he and his family were taken to Auschwitz.
Tuck credits his fluent command of the German language that he picked up as a young boy with helping him survive the Holocaust.
Tuck also spoke of some of the atrocities he witnessed during his time in the camps and elsewhere, including the hanging of three young boys by the Nazis for daring to leave their posts.
After the war, Tuck moved to Italy, France and finally the United States, where he lives today.
After his speech, he opened the floor to questions.
When asked about how he lives with the memory of what he experienced, Tuck said, “If I live with it, it will destroy me.”
April Licato, a sophomore math education major, was thankful for the opportunity to hear a Holocaust survivor speak.
“I mean it was kind of really eye-opening in some parts, other parts I kind of knew,” said Licato. “I’ve definitely had an interest in this since this is my culture, but hearing a first-hand account of it, and hearing about Kristallnacht and Auschwitz, and seeing a [survivor’s] tattoo in real life, I’ve never actually seen one, it’s kind of freaky because it’s something that you see in history books, but doesn’t become real until you see someone share their story.”
Stephen Hague, who is the coordinator for Rowan’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and also a history professor said it was a joy to see the program run.
“I thought it was absolutely terrific, it was great to see so many students, faculty and staff come out to hear what he had to say,” Hague said. “It was one of those things that as he was talking, you could really hear a pin drop. It seemed like, looking around the room, everybody was just riveted to what he was saying.”
Tuck himself said that there was one thing above all else that he wanted people attending the talk to know.
“Education,” he said. “Make sure that this thing never happens again. Make sure that in the future, if somebody’s gonna deny that the Holocaust ever happened, tell them you saw a Holocaust survivor.”
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