lunes, 25 de noviembre de 2013
Peter Loth, "Learn how to forgive"
Peter Loth, a German Jew born in Stutthof concentration camp in Poland, told his harrowing tale of loss and a young life of bitterness to a full audience at Missouri Valley College. Held in the R. Wilson Brown Room in the Ferguson Center on Tuesday, Nov. 19, Loth detailed his journey from Poland to where he lives now in Kingwood, Texas.
The event began at 7 p.m. with a brief introduction by Beverly Katz, assistant professor in the business school.
"Many people are saying this didn't happen," Loth said. "How can that be? When the Americans were the liberators, the Russians were liberators, the British were liberators, the French were liberators... We have to honor every single soldier and we have to honor every single Holocaust survivor because its not just only the Jews who died."
Loth is an international speaker who travels to share his testimony so that he can educate people about the horrors of the Holocaust and to ultimately preach healing through forgiveness.
"Everyone of us here, I don't care what you tell me, has got an issue with forgiveness," Loth said, as he began his testimony and started telling the audience of his past.
Loth's mother was three months pregnant with him when she was arrested and sent to Stutthof. He revealed the horrors of the concentration camps from the disabled people being immediately slaughtered to the execution methods the Nazis performed on the detained like specific ovens for adults and children, and gas chambers where women and children were stripped nude and had to suffer for 45 minutes slowly dying from poison.
Loth asked the audience to name some concentration camps and how many there were. Responses like Auschwitz were announced and no one was quite sure about the number of concentration camps.
"The Holocaust Musuem just came out with a figure: 42,500 camps," Loth said. "That's including labor camps, experimentation camps, prostitution camps because every single major camp had sub camps."
As he continued his testimony, he told of his birth mother giving him up to a Polish woman, whom Loth called "Matka" which means "mother" in Polish, and that she was the woman he knew as mother for most of his years as a child. He told the tale of when he was reunited with his birth mother, whom had married a black soldier in Germany and had two black daughters. Originally not liking his birth mother and his new family, his mother showed him her scars and her tattoo from Stutthof to show what she's been through.
His family moved to America in 1959, and originally settled in Georgia. Again, Loth had to bear witness to humanity's ugliness where he had to deal with abuse from the Ku Klux Klan for having a mixed family. The family eventually moved to the Midwest but the years of ugliness took a toll on Loth who was bitter and angry, so he ran away. He told the tale of how Ike Skelton picked him up and gave him an education. Then the draft happened. Over the years, he continued on with his life not hearing from his family until he finally heard from his sisters. His mother had already died and the sisters asked Loth to take his mother's ashes back to Stutthof after reuniting with his old family.
Loth told his story of his years in strife he lived and he kept asking to the audience "Would you be able to forgive?"
His determination to share his testimony is two-fold: to educate people so something like the Holocaust would never happen again and to learn to forgive.
"He who forgets history, history repeats itself," Loth said. "Look what's happening in this world. People start hating each other. Nationalities hating. Religions hating. My god is better than your god. Come on."
Eventually, he asked the audience to close their eyes and ask who they needed to forgive.
"This is not about me. This is about you," Loth said. "Who hurt you so much that you're unable to forgive? If I can forgive, you can forgive."
Some students in the audience started crying which prompted Loth to leave the podium behind and give each person a hug.
"Learn how to forgive," Loth said. "Let go."
Peter Loth, full interview: