Between 1939 and 1945, millions of people--the majority Jewish--were systematically tortured and murdered. Miles of recorded film and enough archived documents to fill libraries carry the heavy, irrefutable evidence of one of humanity's greatest atrocities.
Still, there are some who insist the Holocaust never happened.
Holocaust survivor Sid Cyngiser, and the story he shared with students at the University of Calgary Mon., Mar. 29, can hardly be considered fiction. Welcomed by the Hillel Jewish Students' Society, Cyngiser offered himself as a "living document," sharing his painful experiences in an effort to silence Holocaust deniers and pass down to younger generations a story of caution and a message of hope.
"I wish the history of the Holo- caust to be a universal lesson," said Cyngiser. "[But] people just love to hate. And now we're living in a world of terrorism."
Cyngiser was a boy of 15 living in Poland when the Second World War began. He recounted the horrors of being forced to move into ghettos because of his Jewish religion, of living with hunger and disease. He remembered his sisters, mother and grandmother disappearing into the hands of Nazis, never to be seen again. He described how he wept with his father and recalled the day he couldn't cry anymore because there simply weren't any tears left for him to shed. He spoke of the gruelling hikes from camp to camp, which he said was like walking "your own funeral march."
Horror upon horror was carefully detailed, although Cyngiser confessed nothing could do justice to the images of death and despair he witnessed first hand. By the time Cyngiser was liberated by the French in 1945 his father had passed away and Cyngiser himself was so sick that it took him over two years in hospital to recover.
Now living in Calgary with a family of his own he admits it is a wonder he survived. But just as important as being alive, said Cyngiser, is the fact he survived as a human, which he described as having the ability to love.
"I would like to see a world in which people can live in harmony, freedom and total respect for each other," he said.