LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Halina Peabody, a Holocaust survivor, spoke to students at E.C. Glass High School on Thursday about her experience, in the hopes that sharing her story will empower young people to prevent the Holocaust from happening again.
The Poland native was six when World War II began. She said her father fled when Russia invaded to avoid being forced into the, but he was arrested and sentenced to 20 years of labor in Russia.
When the Nazis invaded, Peabody, her baby sister, and their mother were removed from their home and sent to a ghetto, which they fled using false documents.
She says they secretly lived as Catholics for the remainder of the war and eventually reunited with her father.
A Glass student asked Peabody if it ever gets upsetting, reliving the trauma by retelling her story to students.
“It upsets me, yes, in a way,” she said, “but on the other hand, it lifts me up, because I can share, and I know that I’m giving it over to young people, to other people who are going to carry the fight and to prevent it happening again. I’m not going to be here long, but you are. I have grandchildren, and so I’m hoping for them and for you to learn how to prevent this stuff from happening.”
Asked later if she believes something like the Holocaust could happen again, she answered gravely, “Yes, I’m afraid so. Very much so.”