Holocaust victims honored in Tucson, local survivor shares his own story

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Holocaust victims honored in Tucson, local survivor shares his own story

By Simone Del Rosario. CREATED Mar 26, 2014

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - For those who suffered and survived the Holocaust, no two stories are the same. 

But the number of those living to tell those stories is shrinking. 

A 24-hour vigil started Wednesday at noon at the UA Mall, honoring the lives of the millions lost in the genocide. Several local survivors attended the vigil. 

The story of Pawel Lichter begins in 1939. 

"I was 8 years old when the first memory that I have that something was wrong was where my family was gathering around the radio."
Hitler's hate speeches targeted his family's faith. But then officers came knocking on his door in Poland. 
"For some reason, we were in a big bed in the corner," he said. "My sister and I were kind of crouching over there and I don't know how to describe that feeling: It was a feeling of helplessness."
The officers beat his father and then left. His family disappeared in the night.
At the Russian border, they were captured and confined in a concentration camp in Siberia. 
Shuffled around the world, he says the persecution only made him stronger. 
"But I do feel sadness," he said, then he sighed before saying why. 
It's sadness for most everyone he knew. Only his immediate family had made it out alive. 
Pawel's family eventually fled to Mexico City. He eventually migrated north to the United States and fell in love with Southern Arizona.
His granddaughter, a UA student, read some of the names at the vigil. She listened to our interview with her grandfather and said later it was the first time she had ever heard his story.