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Fort Riley community learns resilience from holocaust survivors

By Spc. Elizabeth Payne | 19TH PUBLIC AFFAIRS DETACHMENT | May 05, 2017

     In honor of the 2017 Days of Remembrance, Soldiers and civilians attended a speech April 24 at Riley’s Conference Center and listened to the story of Evy Tilzer’s parents, who survived the Holocaust.

     “April 23 to 29 commemorates the victims of the Holocaust by remembering their stories as we help shape policies that ensure our community members are treated with dignity and respect,” according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website.

     Tilzer, a speaker for the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education, shared the story of her parents meeting while in the Tomaszów camp of Poland in 1943. They spent years apart and eventually reunited and married during the Holocaust, then moved to Kansas City, Missouri, after World War II ended in 1945.

     “On May 8, 1945, units of The 1st Infantry Division liberated Zwodau and Falkenau an der Eger, both subcamps of the Flossenburg concentration camp,” according to James Scott Wheeler, author of “The Big Red One.”

     Tilzer says she enjoys speaking to Soldiers and said her mother, June Feinsilver, used to come with her to the speeches to answer questions from the audience. Tilzer said her mother enjoyed meeting people and was humbled by people’s reaction to her story. Her mother would say, “What did I do? I just survived.”

     Upon conclusion of the speech, when asked of her reaction to Tilzer’s story, Sgt. 1st Class Teresa A. Figueroa, a division equal opportunity advisor, Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Inf. Div., noted the connection to her experience with the cases seen by the equal opportunity office.

     “You often have two people who have went through the same thing, yet each were affected differently,” Figueroa said.

     Tilzer said her father kept his camp serial number tattooed on his arm, as it was a reminder of the hard time that he endured and survived, while Tilzer’s mother had the tattoo removed because it was too painful a memory to recall.

     “If my parents could get through what they suffered then, then it is possible now, for Soldiers to get through hard times,” Tilzer said.

 

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