Leo Handel's Amazing Survival Story

On April 12, we observe Holocaust Remembrance Day. (International Holocaust Remembrance Day is January 27)

This morning, President Trump released a statement regarding Holocaust Remembrance Day, it reads in part:

"This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, when the imprisoned Polish Jews mounted a courageous and extraordinary act of armed resistance against their Nazi guards. 

The Holocaust, known in Hebrew as "Shoah," was the culmination of the Nazi regime's "Final Solution to the Jewish Question," an attempt to eradicate the Jewish population in Europe.  Although spearheaded by one individual, this undertaking could not have happened without the participation of many others who recruited, persuaded, and coerced in their efforts to incite the worst of human nature and carry out the ugliest of depravity.  The abject brutality of the Nazi regime, coupled with the failure of Western leaders to confront the Nazis early on, created an environment that encouraged and enflamed anti-Semitic sentiment and drove people to engage in depraved, dehumanizing conduct. 

By the end, the Nazis and their conspirators had murdered 6 million men, women, and children, simply because they were Jews.  They also persecuted and murdered millions of other Europeans, including Roma and Sinti Gypsies, persons with mental and physical disabilities, Slavs and other minorities, Christians, Jehovah's Witnesses, gays, and political dissidents.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, do hereby ask the people of the United States to observe the Days of Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust, April 12 through April 19, 2018, and the solemn anniversary of the liberation of Nazi death camps, with appropriate study, prayers and commemoration, and to honor the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution by internalizing the lessons of this atrocity so that it is never repeated."

The stories of Holocaust survivors are heartbreaking and harrowing, and if you've ever seen a documentary, the images are horrifying and haunting.

But when someone in your family is a survivor of that horrible time, those stories are even more terrifying.Bill's father, Leo Handel, is one of those stories.  

At one point in the 1930's living in the former Yugoslavia, he was arrested by Nazi guards, beaten and released.  Knowing what was soon to come, he begged his family to escape the country with him but they refused to go.  

Leo left on his own and traveled to Italy, where he posed as a priest in the Vatican. Eventually, he made his way to Brazil where he met his wife, Nechama.

Leo's story is an amazing example of survival and resilience.  Leo passed away more than 10 years ago, but before he did, Bill sat down and talked to him about his story.

Listen to the entire account from Bill and Leo himself.  

 
Bill Handel

Bill Handel

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