Survivor stories: Gary Silvers

He survived the WWII extermination of Jews. Here's part of his story, courtesy of the Florida Holocaust Museum.

click to enlarge Gary Silvers escaped the Jewish Holocaust. - Courtesy of Eckerd College
Courtesy of Eckerd College
Gary Silvers escaped the Jewish Holocaust.

Mass murder.

You can call it genocide or a holocaust, but whatever you call it, it's mass murder, and it's why we have Holocaust museums. The Florida Holocaust Museum brings like to genocides everywhere in the world — not only the cold-blooded extermination of Jews in WWII, but Rwanda and other places. 

So to say anyone's "celebrating" 25 years of such a thing sounds... callous. But for 25 years, FHM has shed light on these mass exterminations in the hope that if we, as a people, don't forget, we won't let it happen again.

As part of that celebration, FHM periodically releases survivor stories. Yesterday they released Gary Silvers' story. 

Silvers, a child in Berlin, tried to go to school on November 10, 1938, things weren't right.

"Stores were destroyed, sinks were in the street," he said. Then, when he got to school, it was closed. He went home and his mother tried to take him back to school, but his father refused to allow that. 

Today, we call this Kristallnacht, or Crystal Night, because the Gestapo had gone to Jewish-owned businesses and smashed out the glass doors and windows. They destroyed Jewish property and arrested Jews. 

Silvers, who lived through the horror of history, had no way of knowing that at the time; he was a child. 

He knows now — and much more. He learned later his father was almost arrested while he slept that night.

"From my mother's side, the Christian side, one of my aunts' husbands was a Gestapo guy, with the black uniform, with the pistol. And a cousin was married to a German army officer. And that night they [the Gestapo officer and the army officer] were at my home. When the police came to pick up my father to take him to the concentration camp, the Gestapo guy said 'Stop.' And nobody argues with a Gestapo guy. They have much more power than the police. So they left. But the Gestapo guy told my father, 'Get the hell out of Germany, as far as you can, because things are going to get bad, and I can't do this again. It'd be my neck...'" 

Gary's family made it to Shanghai. Read the rest of his story.