Publish Date: 10/17/2012
October 17, 2012
MANSFIELD, PA—Holocaust survivor Dina Jacobsen came to Mansfield University to share her story with students in Associate Professor Andrew Gaskievicz’s World War II History courses and other members of the campus community on Wednesday, October 17.
Jacobsen, who is 90, was 16 years old when she was sent to Auschwitz from her home in Poland. The rest of her family; her mother and father, five brothers, her sister and her sister’s husband and child were taken prisoner two weeks earlier when Jacobsen was out of the family’s farm house. She never saw any of them again.
When asked if she has forgiven her captors, Jacobsen said, “How can I forgive them? Could you forgive them for killing your family?”
She recounted the horrors she and the other concentration camp survivors endured at the hands of the Nazis, such as seeing trains pull in every half hour full of people heading to the gas chambers. “I lived by the minute, everyone lived by the minute,” she said. “Now I live by the hour,” she added with a smile.
Jacobsen, who lives in Elmira, NY speaks frequently to groups and classes about her experiences.
“It is very, very hard for me to talk about it, but I have to do it,” she said. “People should know.”
For Gaskievicz, the opportunity for his students to hear Jacobsen’s story and interact with her was invaluable.
“Many, not just survivors of the Holocaust but World War II veterans, are dying and we’re losing all those voices,” he said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing for students to have a Holocaust survivor come to the class and talk to them. It adds a great deal and is extremely valuable.”
Gaskievicz credits MU Professor Emeritus Ron Remy, who heard Jacobsen speak in Elmira, for making the connection and inviting her to Mansfield.
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