May 15, 2013

Holocaust survivor brings story to Lakeland, Georgia

On April 30, 2013, Dr. Eugen Schoenfeld, scholar and Holocaust survivor, shared his story to the community of Lakeland, Georgia. He spoke to a full auditorium at Lanier County High School and through live feed in the cafeteria where additional audience members were seated. The event was free and open to the public.

The following morning he spoke to honors students and faculty at the school about the events that led up to the Holocaust.

This event was made possible by the following co-sponsors:

  • State Representative Jason Shaw
  • Patten Seed Company
  • Cathy and Jeff Helms, Attorneys at Law
  • Lee and Associates of Valdosta
  • Lakeland/Lanier Chamber of Commerce
  • Mrs. Nell Roquemore
  • The Lanier County Historical Society
  • Lanier County High School Student Council

Dr. Schoenfeld was born November 8, 1925 in Mukacevo, Czechoslovakia. Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party ascended to power in Germany in early 1933 and demanded the Sudentenland, an area of Czechoslovakia where the majority of the population was ethnically German, be “returned” to the German Reich. In 1938, it was annexed to Germany by the leaders of Britain, France, Italy and Germany in exchange for peace in response to Hitler’s increasingly violent threats. Less than a year later, the Nazis began an invasion of Czechoslovakia and other regions of Europe.

World War II began with the German invasion of Poland in September of 1939. Anti-Jewish laws originally outlined in Germany with the Nuremberg Race Laws of 1935 extended to Nazi-occupied countries, stripping hundreds of thousands of Jewish citizens of their basic rights and made life increasingly difficult. Many nations kept strict immigration quotas that prevented Jews from seeking asylum elsewhere. Dr. Schoenfeld and his family were among the victims who were taken from their homes by the Nazis and their collaborators.

From 1944 to 1945, Dr. Schoenfeld was interned as a prisoner in Auschwitz, Warsaw, Dachau and Muehldorf. Unable to continue his medical studies in Prague after the war, he immigrated to the United States and studied at Washington University (St. Louis, Missouri). He went on to receive a Masters of Sociology from Washington University Graduate School. He received his PhD from Southern Illinois University, Department of Sociology in 1966.

Dr. Schoenfeld travels throughout Georgia, speaking about his lifetime experiences to students, libraries, civic groups and government officials. He has written two books, My Reconstructed Life and Faith and Conflict.

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