Holocaust survivor tells Cary students 'don't hate'
Posted February 11, 2015
Cary, N.C. — A man in his late 80s captivated seventh-graders at Mills Park Middle School in Cary on Wednesday with stories of survival and forgiveness.
Abe Piasek was 11 when Nazi forces invaded his native Poland. A year later, he was loaded into a truck with other Jews to work in a factory. The Nazis, he says, were killing off the small, the weak and the elderly, but he had befriended two prisoners he calls his "angels."
"They picked me up by my armpits, and I was tall as them and I was saved," he said.
Eventually, Piasek wound up at the Auschwitz prison camp.
"Every time they shot somebody, we had to go watch it," he said.
Nearby were the infamous "showers," where prisoners were sent to their death.
"It's no shower in there," he tells the students. "They gas them."
Before he met what he knew was certain death at Auschwitz, the camp was evacuated as Allied forces advanced toward it in the waning days of World War II.
Prisoners were forced to march toward Germany, and soldiers killed stragglers.
"One of the SS took out a pistol and shot my friend right in the head," Piasek said, recalling a confrontation he had with soldiers. "I was fast, and I escaped."
Nazi Germany was soon defeated, and he was finally free. He later made his way to the U.S, where he married and raised a son and daughter. He moved to Raleigh in 2009 to be near his daughter.
The Mills Park Middle students said they couldn't believe the stories but knew they were true.
"They are just terrifying things – almost out of nightmares – but they actually happened," Abigail Shorter said.
"It was (hard) to grasp in my mind, like, that actually happened," Andrew Locke said.
Piasek left the young audience with a simple message: don't hate.
"If you don't like somebody, that's a different story, but hate is a bad," he said. "Remember that. Hate is a bad word. Be kind to each other."