About 800 people filled Wenjack Theatre on November 8 and overflowed into five nearby classrooms, to watch by video link, as Dr. Max Eisen talked about being forced out of his home as a young boy during the Second World War, standing for four days on a train so crammed with others that he could not sit down, and becoming a slave labourer to the Nazis in Auschwitz.
After being liberated in 1945, Dr. Eisen was the only member of his Jewish family to have survived.
He told the crowd that his father had asked him to “tell the world” what happened in Auschwitz should he survive.
Now Dr. Eisen is a great-grandfather, living in Canada, who is doing just that.
Speaking during Holocaust Education Week in Ontario, the 2018 Trent honorary degree recipient is an award-winning author who wrote the memoir, By Chance Alone, detailing his life in Czechoslovakia and the atrocities he witnessed and endured during the war. He urged the crowd to never give up in life and to always speak out about injustice.
“Bad things happen when good people stand by and do nothing,” he said.
Trent undergraduate student Sophie Turner, in her second year of studying History and Forensic Science, said she was inspired by the uplifting story of hope.
“This is someone who survived against all odds,” she said, as she lined up to purchase a signed copy of his book. “And now he’s rallying us to help others and that’s awesome.”
Missed the talk? Watch the recording now..
This lecture was sponsored by Lady Eaton College, the Beth-Israel Synagogue, and the History Department at Trent University.