A video of an elderly Hasidic Holocaust survivor returning to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland and emotionally recounting his harrowing experiences there has gone viral on Facebook, drawing hundreds of thousands of views in just a few days.
In the video, Rabbi Nissen Mangel is seen telling a group of Boyaner Hasidim in Yiddish about how he, at the age of 10, underwent the “selectzia” process — supervised by infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele — with his family, who were from Bratislava. Mangel lied to Mengele about his age — claiming he was 17. Even though Mengele realized this was not true, Mangel and his father were chosen for slave labor, rather than immediate execution.
“It was a miracle,” Mangel said. “1.5 million children were sent to the gas chambers and to me Mengele said to work with my father.”
The video was posted online on Friday by Mangel’s grandson Leibel.
“My grandfather had been back once before a number of years ago, but this trip had added significance and meaning, as he returned with three of his grandchildren,” Leibel — an IDF combat veteran — told The Algemeiner. “Seeing my grandfather tell his story at the location it took place was almost indescribable. It was very emotional. My grandfather was a very big reason that I decided to join the IDF, so to hear his story of courage and bravery in that setting was so surreal. It was also a moment that both he and our family took great pride in. He is here 73 years later, telling his story — the ultimate sign of victory.”
“The generation of those who lived through the horrors is dwindling,” he said. “We need to remember what was done to us. We need to remember the strength, courage and bravery that so many displayed during that time for our people. We need to continue to be inspired to stand up for our people and our homeland. ‘Never Again’ can’t just be something we say. ‘Never Again’ has to be something we live on a daily basis.”
Furthermore, Leibel noted, “There are so many people who are unaware of what happened or have never heard first-hand stories. It is up to us to make sure this period of our history is never forgotten. This is why it was so important that this trip be documented and shared with the world.”
Since publishing the video, Leibel said he has “heard from people all over the world telling me the impact watching it had on them — how they were touched and inspired to do more for our people. To overcome and power through life’s challenges in general.”
“That is priceless,” he continued. “It makes the whole trip worth it. I know my grandfather takes great pride in that as well. Never once has he used his past as an excuse. Instead, it is a tool he has used to inspire others.”