Holocaust survivor spreads message of peace, happiness, and forgiveness to thousands of Alaskans

For the first time in Alaska, “The Honey Girl of Auschwitz” shares firsthand account of a horrific time in history
Holocaust survivor Esther Basch spreads message of peace, happiness and forgiveness to thousands of Alaskans
Published: Aug. 15, 2023 at 10:54 PM AKDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Several thousand people listened to the story and inspiring message of “The Honey Girl of Auschwitz” on Tuesday night at the Dena’ina Convention Center in Anchorage.

Esther Basch, a 95-year-old Holocaust survivor, shared her unique story of survival and triumph, one that includes riding in a cattle car to the Auschwitz Death Camp on her 16th birthday.

“May 28th, 1944, is when I got off the train to Auschwitz, lost my parents right away,” Basch said. “My father was taken to the right, which later I find out [was] straight to the gas chambers. I was still holding hands with my mom, very, very strongly until the Nazi came, tore our hands apart by force, threw my mom to the right and took me into the back.”

In April 1945, Basch was taken on a death march to the Salzwedel Concentration Camp, arriving shortly before it was liberated by American soldiers.

When she got out of the camp, Basch was so hungry that she ate — and was later sickened from — a whole jar of honey.

“People feel the need to come and experience her story firsthand. And that’s why I think everyone’s coming here together, to get inspired,” said Rabbi Levi Glitsenstein, an associate rabbi with the Alaska Jewish Campus and Museum.

With a diminishing population of Holocaust survivors, Basch travels the country to share that her experience in the concentration camp is only part of her story.

“I feel very strongly to teach people to forgive, to love everybody,” Basch said.

When Basch was asked how she felt about Germans now, her response was touching.

“I cannot forget the horror they put me through, but I can forgive. Because if I don’t forgive, if I hold a grudge, I only hurt myself,” Basch said.

The Alaska Jewish Campus and Museum invited Basch to speak so more people in Alaska can be informed about the Holocaust.

“People feel that this story needs to be remembered and needs to be taught and we have to all make sure that we’re adding into our values, to make sure there’s more values of charity, social justice, education, especially with the start of the school year,” Glitsenstein said. “We want to make sure that the next generation know about the Holocaust, with adding kindness and a love for each other and respect.”

Basch says her love of humankind not only helped her survive but enables her to share a firsthand account of her journey during the Holocaust.

“Live in peace, love all people regardless of who you are and you’ll be happy and I am happy at 95. I’m very, very happy,” Basch said.