'Hatred kills:' 81-year-old Holocaust survivor shares experience and warns against the rise in hate

Lauren Glassberg Image
Thursday, January 25, 2024
Holocaust survivor shares her story ahead of Remembrance Day
Lauren Glassberg has the story.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- As Saturday marks the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day, the mantra "never forget" continues to underscore the murders of more than six million Jews by Nazis in Germany.

It also comes at a time of rising antisemitism, which has become especially hard for the few holocaust survivors who are still alive.

"28 people in my family were murdered," said Gabriella Major to Eyewitness News.

The decades don't diminish the fact that most of Major's relatives were slaughtered in the Holocaust.

Major was just two-years-old when the Nazis invaded Hungary, and the Jews were moved into ghettos and then concentration camps.

"No air to breath. Squeezed together like sardines," remembered Major, who wrote a poem about her experiences titled, "We Shall Overcome."

Yet, all these years later in New York, where she's always felt safe, this great-grandmother is worried about the rise of antisemitism.

"I have a lump in my throat. It's very hard," she says.

This reason is why she wants to make sure young people of all backgrounds learn about the Holocaust and the power of hate.

"I am passionate about educating, because I feel that is one of the main pathways and one thing everyone needs to know is hatred kills," said Major.

It's a message that bears repeating.

Nearly 80 years after the Holocaust ended, there are only about 245,000 Jewish Holocaust survivors who are still alive. Their average age is 86.

"We know we won't have them for that much longer," said Greg Schneider, Executive VP of Claims Conference. "And so we must take every opportunity to listen to them, to hear their stories, to learn from them."

Schneider is with the Claims Conference, which seeks justice for survivors.

It commissioned the demographic report of Jewish Holocaust survivors, finding 16 percent live in the U.S., with about 15,000 in New York - like Major.

"The Holocaust is really going from memory to history, right? It's a personal experience where people can talk about their own testimony," added Schneider. "Soon we won't have that."

This is why 81-year-old Gabriella tells her story, whether it's on social media or school groups at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

"There's a Hebrew saying 'tikkun olam' to repair the world," said Major. "We can repair the world little by little, one step at a time. One person at a time. One act of kindness at a time."


* Get Eyewitness News Delivered

* Follow us on YouTube

* More local news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News

Have a breaking news tip or an idea for a story we should cover? Send it to Eyewitness News using the form below. If attaching a video or photo, terms of use apply.