Military News

Monday, April 20, 2015

Beale honors Holocaust Days of Remembrance

by Airman 1st Class Taylor A. Workman
9th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs

4/20/2015 - BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.,  -- Team Beale honored the Days of Remembrance with a commemorative "Learning from the Holocaust: Choosing to Act" themed breakfast held at the Recce Point Club here April 17.

Liz Igra, a Holocaust survivor as well as the president of the Central Valley Holocaust Educators' Network, dedicated her time to speak at the event.

"On my sixth birthday, I got a star. Every child loves stars," said Igra. "Mine was yellow and it said 'Juden' the German word for Jew."

Igra and her mother Anna Kranz, survived Nazi persecution by acquiring false papers and assuming different identities to hide their Jewish origin. Together they escaped from a Polish ghetto in December 1942 and travelled across Czechoslovakia to Hungary, braving harsh winters and battling illness, where they hid in various locations until the end of the war.

Most of Igra's family was murdered in the Belzec death camp, which was responsible for the execution of an estimated 600,000 Jews within its nine months of operation, to include her father Szymon Kranz, a surgeon, who was deported from Czortkow in August 1942.

She briefly recalled her last interaction with her father.

"He wore grey pants, a light blue jacket, a green tie, a white shirt. He looked so handsome," said Igra. "I remember this so well because that was the last time I saw my father."

The Belzec extermination camp orchestrated the murder program in the design and implementation of the gas chambers. It was the precursor for Auschwitz, added Igra.

Shortly after she spoke, she admitted to feeling as though she had hiked a mountain, but that the emotional exhaustion that spawns from sharing her painful story is well worth the accomplishment she feels as a teacher and a survivor.

"I want our Airmen to learn about her story, her hardships and how she overcame it, we need that kind of resiliency" said Master Sgt. Vanessa Hernandez, Aerospace Physiology Technician and event co-chair. "It is that spiritual, emotional, physical resiliency, which we have to have as Airmen--as combat Airmen. She is a great role model for all of us."

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