'I wish it were a lie,' says Holocaust survivor targeted by social media trolls

Gidon Lev, 88, says he faces abuse from Holocaust deniers when he tells of childhood in Nazi death camp

Powered by automated translation

An 88-year old Holocaust survivor has spoken about the hate he receives on social media having lived to tell the harrowing story of horror and humiliation he faced in a Nazi death camp.

Gidon Lev, was born in Czechoslovakia and was one of the few children who survived incarceration at Theresienstadt — or Terezin — concentration camp between 1941 and 1945.

But he told an audience in Dubai on Saturday evening that some people still think he is lying.

“They straight out tell me that I am a liar,” said Mr Lev, who is a star on TikTok with more than 414,000 followers on his channel @thetrueadventures.

He is also the author of ‘The True Adventures of Gidon Lev’ that chronicles his life as a Holocaust survivor.

“But I wish it were a lie. Then I would have had a father, grandfather, grandmother, and uncles and cousins and second cousins,” he said sharing his story during a commemoration event to mark the International Holocaust Remembrance Day held at the Crossroads of Civilizations Museum on Saturday evening.

The event, attended by members of the Jewish community as well as by prominent Emiratis, was live streamed across the world.

Remembrance events have been held all over the world to honour the six million Jewish people murdered, alongside the millions of others, by the Nazis.

Mr Lev said 26 members of his family died, including his father and grandmother, in the genocide unleashed against Jews and other racial minorities.

Fighting hunger in concentration camps

Mr Lev was five years old when he and his mother were taken to the camp.

Mr Lev spent four years in the camp between 1941 to 1945. After liberation, he and his mother emigrated to New York and later to Toronto. In 1959, he moved to Israel, where he still lives.

Recalling the days of “segregation and humiliation” his family faced after Hitler’s troops took control of Czechoslovakia, Mr Lev said: “I did not have a childhood at all.”

Jews were subjected to oppressive rules and he could not even play in a park.

Describing the life in the army barracks as a five-year old boy, Mr Lev said he remembered the hunger pangs “as if it were yesterday”.

“We were hungry. We were hungry from morning to evening and evening to morning. We received a slice of bread and small bowl of soup. That was it,” he said.

He said if he worked hard, he would get an extra slice of apple or some marmalade from the officer.

His great grandmother was transported to the Treblinka death camp at the age of 83, where an estimated 900,000 Jews died in its gas chambers.

She was asked to strip, had her head shaved and was sent to take a shower.

“Little did she know that it was shower of gas. That is how she died. That is how thousands died,” he said.

Speaking about growing anti-Semitism, he said people had to understand how the Holocaust happened.

“It was step by step. By the time, the Jews were sent to the concentration camps, they were already so degraded, so humiliated.”

History must not be denied

Ahmad Obaid Al Mansoori, director of the Crossroads of Civilizations Museum, said the UAE hosted the event because it was important to acknowledge the grim realities of the Holocaust.

“It is a historical fact,” he said.

“It is the biggest genocide against humanity. You can have different political perspective. But you cannot deny a historical fact.”

He said Holocaust denial in the Middle East was rooted in political ideology.

The UAE’s decision to teach Holocaust in schools, he said, will go a long way educating the Arab youth and making them understand that the Holocaust was a crime against humanity.

Israel's ambassador to the UAE, Amir Hayek, said: “Memory will teach us how terrible [the Holocaust] was. But it is not enough.

“Each and every one of us must fight every manifestation of racism, every intolerance towards others.

This is another meaning of ‘Never again’.”

Citing the escalating violence in Jerusalem, the envoy said his country wanted to live in peace but would fight to protect Jewish citizens.

Survivors recount ordeal

Holocaust survivors recount stories using AI

Holocaust survivors recount stories using AI
Updated: January 29, 2023, 1:42 PM