Holocaust Victim Talks At Academy

April 26, 1992|By Angela Gambill | Angela Gambill,Staff writer

A memorial program at the Naval Academy tonight will remind listeners that the effects of the Holocaust continue to reach beyond those who died.

The featured speaker, a 1961 Academy graduate, exemplifiesthe consequences of the Holocaust for many of the living, said RabbiAlbert Slomovitz, a chaplain at the academy.

Ben Gerson, who works with Merrill Lynch in Washington, was born in Germany in 1937. As a 3-year-old, he and his 5-year-old sister were sent to live with a Christian family in Belgium.

Said Slomovitz,"One reason for this program is that we need to talk about the righteous Christians, the people who did put themselves on the line to save Jews and others."

But there is another reason to hear Gerson's story, the rabbi says. "The process isn't closed; it isn't just the 6 million dead. How many millions were affected like this person, even as an infant?"

In Belgium, Gerson was given a new name, religion and identity. After the war, he tried to find his immediate family butlearned that his parents had been killed.

Unable to find family members, Gerson made his way to the United States to be reared by distant relatives, and relearn his identity for a second time. Ultimately, he came to the Naval Academy.

Earlier this week, Gerson discussed how hard it will be for him to speak of the painful, personal events of his life.

"It took me a long time to decide I could talk about it (at tonight's event)," he said. "I'm not interested in publicity. But for my friends who may come and for the midshipmen . . . perhaps my story will help someone."

The program is scheduled for 7 tonight in the academy's Main Chapel.

Music will be provided by the Naval Academy Gospel Choir and Cantor Tali Katz.

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