Holocaust survivor learns to forgive: ‘Hatred destroys people’s lives’
By LA Stories Staff Los Angeles
PUBLISHED 5:00 AM PT Dec. 06, 2021
William Harvey was just 19 years old when Nazi soldiers knocked on his door.
He was Jewish, living with his family in Czechoslovakia, and he knew the knock meant his life was about to change forever. He and his family were forced into a ghetto and later crammed in a cattle car forced to make the harrowing journey to the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Upon arriving at the camp, Harvey described seeing large chimneys with thick smoke filling the air.
“They were burning human beings,” he said. “We had no power to do anything.”
Almost immediately, Harvey was separated from the rest of his family, and he never saw his mother again.
On this special edition of “LA Stories” with Giselle Fernandez, Harvey describes the horrors he experienced during the Holocaust. After 12 days at Auschwitz, he was sent into forced labor.
Harvey recalled working in the freezing cold and people dying all around him. He was then sent to Buchenwald. Weighing just 72 pounds and nearly frozen to death, Harvey was thrown in with bodies being carried to the crematory. Luckily, someone realized he was alive and brought him to the infirmary.
Days later, Harvey woke to find that they had been liberated. He has somehow found peace with what happened despite all he went through.
“You have to learn to forgive, which is very difficult, but otherwise, you cannot live a happy life,” he said. “Hatred destroys people’s lives.”