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Apply the lessons from the Holocaust era - to live a life that matters - Ben Lesser of Zachor Foundation

Ben and sister Lola were their
family's sole Shoah survivors
Yom Ha Shoah, Israel's day to commemorate the catastrophe of institutionalized genocide, falls on different dates each year, according to the Hebrew Lunar Calendar. Coming in the springtime, it's the last of two annual Holocaust commemorations, following the International Holocaust Remembrance Day during the end of January. 

When Mr. Ben Lesser was first in his teens, the Nazi-occupied Polish government forced his family out of their home and into the walled ghetto. Eventually, his family were sent to concentration camps where he was taken as slave laborer. He and his family members were sent to concentration camps during the Holocaust, where his parents were genocided, and inmates were intentionally worked to death. 

On the evening of the 4/19 Yom haShoah holiday Mr. Lesser recorded for a KLAS-TV News history segment.                                                                                                              

Jean Lesser (z'l) passed a year ago

We filmed an interview with him close to evening time on a day approaching the unveiling of the headstone of Jean, his wife of seven decades. Jean and Ben Lesser established the Zachor (Hebrew for "Remember") Educational Foundation to educate against
tyranny - using people's Holocaust experiences as a background. Today, the foundation is managed by their daughter, Gail.

In our interview, Ben shares his experience living in ghettos in Europe, including how homes and businesses were confiscated from Jews with no legal justification. He emphasizes the importance of education in preventing another genocide and discusses his work in making teaching the Holocaust mandatory in schools. Mr. Lesser also expresses concern about society not fully acknowledging the Holocaust and the portrayal of Jews in Christian and Catholic theology. Finally, he discusses the importance of his grandchildren continuing the work of the Zachor Holocaust Remembrance Foundation.  


00:00:00 In this section, the former Jewish slave laborer, explains the circumstances of Jewish ghettos in Europe during the Holocaust. He describes how Jews were forced to live in ghettos and their homes and businesses were confiscated without legal justification. 
Polish officials, under Nazi authority, suddenly confiscated Mr. Lesser's father's chocolate making business and syrup making business. When a new law was passed that Jews could no longer reside in Krakow, they had to relocate into the ghetto or a small community. He recalls the thievery of residence that was conducted during the relocation process and how non-Jewish neighbors moved into their homes and took everything, leaving the Jews with nothing. Lesser emphasizes the importance of remembering the Holocaust and knowing its history to prevent another one.

00:05:00 In this section, Mr. Lesser discusses how important it is for schools to teach about history and not just the Holocaust, but other histories like black history and Native Indian history. He mentions his efforts in Los Angeles and Nevada with others to make teaching the Holocaust mandatory in schools instead of discretionary. Ben talks about how in Poland, 95% were anti-Semitic and the Poles turned over many Jews to the Nazis. However, he also mentions that not all Poles were bad and there were some who risked their lives to save Jews.

"Living a Life that Matters" autobiography by Ben Lesser
In this section, Holocaust survivor Mr. Lesser talks about the portrayal of Jews in Christian and Catholic theology, expressing that while the church has made progress through the Nostra Aetate, there is still much work to be done. He also discusses his own experiences in labor camps, such as being punished with 25 lashes for the actions of others and the sadistic nature of the punishments.

00:15:00 In this section, he expresses concern about society not fully acknowledging the Holocaust and the silence of the world during the genocide that led to the slaughter of six million Jewis people, including a million and a half children. He believes that the propaganda of a global Jewish cabal dominating and taking over economies was the main factor that convinced the public that Jews deserved what happened to them. Mr. Lesser also points out that education played a significant role in the success of the Jewish people and suggests that if the rest of the world would become better educated, they would also have the opportunity to be successful.
00:20:00 In this section, Ben Lesser discusses how important it is for his grandchildren to continue the work of the Holocaust Remembrance Foundation, which he established as a way to educate people on the events of the Holocaust. He describes how his grandchildren have made a vow to ensure the Foundation continues even after his death. Hiss curriculum is being taught in thousands of schools across the world and has been approved by the Shoah Foundation. His book, "Living a Life that Matters," recounts his life story from Nazi nightmare to American Dream, and he encourages people to read it to learn more about the miracles that saved his life.

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