Holocaust Survivor Gives Talk, Students Join Chant… “NEVER AGAIN”

On April 29, 2019, hundreds of Corvallisites gathered to hear the story of Stephen “Pista” Nasser, a Holocaust survivor.

The event was hosted by OSU’s School of History, Philosophy, and Religion as part of the annual Holocaust Memorial Week, which takes place from April 29 to May 5.

Nasser was only 13-years-old when he and his older brother, Andris, were separate from their parents, and  taken to Auschwitz concentration camp. As a Hungarian Jew, his entire family was subjected to the horrors of Hitler’s Nazi Germany in the 1940s. Before being transferred to Muhldorf camp, Nasser witnessed his own aunt and infant cousin being bludgeoned to death by a Nazi.

Nasser and his brother Andris worked seven days a week at Muhldorf, with hardly any food to eat. As time passed, many prisoners grew more and more weak without proper sustenance . One day, Andris could not get up to work, and he was taken to the death barracks. Nasser, desperate to rescue his brother, saved portions of his own meals to take to Andris in hopes of bringing him back to health, but to no avail.

“Andris died in my arms,” Nasser told the audience. “I took my forefingers and closed his eyes, and I said goodbye to my brother.”

Before his brother died, Nasser made a promise to him to carry on the story of the Holocaust to force change within society. Above all, he advocates for the prevention of hatred-driven violence. Nasser spends his time speaking to audiences about the importance of remembering the tragic events of the mid-20th century.

Nasser lost twenty-one members of his family during the Holocaust. Of his immediate family, he was the only one to survive. All he has left of the tragic events are a diary he kept while at Muhldorf, which he had to rewrite in the hospital after the original was lost during the liberation. These entries and memories have taken shape into his books, My Brother’s Voice and Journey to Freedom, a play, Not Yet, Pista, and the hundreds of talks he gives around the nation.

After his powerful presentation, Nasser asked the audience to join hands and say with him, “Never again.”

“We are all equal, we are all human beings,” he stated as the crowd linked arms and hands.

The event finished with questions from the audience and a heavy round of applause. Nasser also participated in a book signing after his talk.

Nasser’s story commences OSU’s Holocaust Memorial Week with an important, resounding message. Never again can families lose one another. Never again can people be tortured and killed for who they are. Never again can hate drive out love.

By Cara Nixon