Author and Holocaust survivor shares WWII experiences with eighth-graders
April 11, 2013 2:14PM
Author and Holocaust survivor Aaron Elster spoke to eighth-graders during a presentation at Veterans Memorial Middle School in Blue Island. | Supplied photo
Updated: May 15, 2013 6:03AM
Veterans Memorial Middle School in Blue Island recently welcomed Aaron Elster, author and Holocaust survivor, who spook to eighth-grade students about his World War II experiences.
Elster told the students he was a young Jewish boy living in Poland during World War II with his parents and two sisters until the liquidation of the Sokolow ghetto in September 1942.
He escaped the liquidation and hid in the surrounding forests and farms, he told the students.
Eventually, he found refuge in the attic of a Polish family’s home where he hid for two years until the war’s end.
Although the attic was his safe haven, there was no heat, no light, a bucket for a toilet and a dirt floor, he said.
After the war, he said, he lived in several orphanages throughout Poland and was eventually smuggled out of Poland to various Displaced Persons camps in West Germany.
Elster emigrated to the United States as a teenager and now lives in the Chicago area.
After retiring from a career as a life insurance executive, he became involved in community endeavors and is a vice president of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie.
Elster frequently visits schools to share information about the Holocaust.
Elster told the students about his book, “I Still See Her Haunting Eyes,” after the presentation.
The book is titled for his 6-year-old sister who was taken off to a death camp and is told through the eyes of an innocent and frightened 10-year-old boy.
The now 80-year-old survivor spoke of the hunger pangs, loneliness, desperation, fear and determination to live.
Elster said through his story he hopes to teach students not only about the Holocaust, but about how everyone has the ability to make a difference.