Holocaust survivor to present program at Lewiston library

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LEWISTON — Holocaust survivor Julia Skalina will be the guest speaker at a brown-bag lunch hosted by Lewiston Mayor Laurent F. Gilbert Sr.  during National Holocaust “Days of Remembrance” Week.

The event will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 13, at the Lewiston Public Library, Callahan Hall, 200 Lisbon St. It is open to the public, and there is no charge to attend. Skalina will share what she experienced during the Holocaust and what life was like after World War II in Communist Czechoslovakia.

According to Gilbert, “Her presentation will no doubt go hand-in-hand with the United States Holocaust Museum’s Days of Remembrance theme for 2010: ‘Stories of Freedom: What You Do Matters.’ I trust that Mrs. Skalina’s words will provide tremendous insight as to just how true that theme is.”

Skalina was born Feb. 19, 1925, in Tornola, Slovakia. In June 1944, she was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau with her mother, her aunt and cousins. Her mother and younger cousin were selected for immediate gassing. After nine weeks, Skalina and her surviving cousin were sent to the Allendorf Labor Camp, a sub-camp of Buchenwald, where she worked in a munitions factory.

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Skalina and other inmates were liberated in March 1945 by an American Army unit. She returned to her hometown and discovered that her brother had been killed shortly before the end of the war. Skalina married in 1946, and she and her family lived in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, until 1968, when they immigrated to Canada and then to the United States. She has lived in Maine since 1995.

A brief “Why We Remember the Holocaust” video, compliments of the Holocaust Museum, will also be shown at the event.

Promotion of this year’s theme by the museum touts that,”Remembrance not only obligates us to memorialize those who were killed during the Holocaust, but it also reminds us of the fragility of democracy and the need for citizens to be vigilant with the protection of democratic ideals. We remember because we recognize the importance of preserving freedom, promoting human dignity, and confronting hate whenever and wherever it occurs.”

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