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Listening Room

The ListeningRoom

Yehuda Bauer's Interview and
Jan Karski's Intervieware also available.

    Each month the listening room will add historians,survivors, liberators, and others sharing their voices. This month we feature Harold Gordon, a survivor and author of The Last Sunrise. He sharesstories of his liberation and how to put hate on hold. To listen you will need:

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I know this may take a few steps, but it allows us to share this with the mostvisitors. Netscape and Internet Explorer are the two best browsers to use this.

Picture of Harold Gordon

Speech by Harold Gordon

You can find HaroldGordon's book, The Last Sunrise, and excerpts here at the Cybrary. Below are10 audio clips available for listening.

Michael Declan Dunn digitized the audio for onlineuse.

To get in touch with Harold, click here to email him at

Warning: a 50K file takes about 30seconds to download on a 14.4 modem.

Put Hate on Hold (85K, about 1 minute 20 seconds)

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I urgeyou, those who have not yet seen the light, put hate on hold, let go of anger andresentment. There is little satisfaction in revenge. Instead, focus on thefuture and a better life will be realized. Let us choose goals that are positiveand achievable.

For instance, we cannot swim up the Colorado River. That would be a wastedeffort. We cannot send all black people back to Africa, Mexican people back toKorea -- back to Mexico. You know what I mean. Korean people back to Korea, andothers. These would be negative goals, would be unachievable goals, why waste ourtime or even think of it.

So what are our choices? I don't see many. If we choose the negative, manymore will be killed and injured. And in the end we still have to live together,in harmony, like the Bosnians and the Serbs will, like the Israelis and the Arabswill, like the whites and the blacks must, like Democrats and Republicans willhave to, like men and women must do.

Harold's Background (55K, about 30 seconds)

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Holocaust, genocide, ethnic cleansing. It is all the same. It can happenanywhere, it can happen here.

A brief synopsis about myself. My name is Harold Gordon now, but 55 years agoI was a 10 year old boy whose name was Hirshel Grodzienski. I lived with myfamily in Grodno, Poland, a city of 60,000 people, of which 25,000 were of theJewish faith, and the remaining 40,000 or so were of the Catholic persuasion. Welived side by side and in peace, most of the time. Within months, after theNazis occupied my Grodno, my city, my entire family -- except for my father --were gassed, burned, and vaporized without leaving a trace of their existence.

I Was the Youngest Survivor (100K, one minute and 30 seconds)

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I couldn't help but wonder, was there something else that God had in mind forme to fulfill? I was the youngest survivor of a city of 25,000; why was Ichosen to live? I was not the smartest, I was not the strongest, I was just anaverage kid. I was tormented looking for an answer. God did not reveal himselfto me, not in my sleep nor in a vision, I had to search the deepest region of mysoul to arrive at answers that I could accept and live with. And three suchreasons emerged from deep within my heart.

The first one, of course, is to memorialize my family, by putting their imagesin my book, so that many all over the world would know that they once lived andwalked this earth. So that my mother in heaven would be proud of the work thatI've done for my family and for others.

And reason number two is to help others who have suffered, have been abused,by helping them let go of anger and resentment in order for them to focus alltheir energies on a positive goal, and a better life for themselves and theirloved ones.

And of course to give to charity. Whenever I speak to a synagogue, church, orany service organization I give a portion of the proceeds of the books' sales tothe organization, thereby giving to all charities and not my own. The remainingother funds goes to print more books.

Liberation Part I: From Dachau (85K, one minute and 20 seconds)

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I will not go into any stories ofthe concentration camps, the atrocities, and the danger that was faced daily. You all have heard about that too often already. I would just like to touch onthe last moments of my liberation from Dachau, a concentration camp in Bavarianear Munich.

It was the end of April 1945. The Russian Soviet troops were advancing, theyhad the city of Berlin surrounded, they were bombarding it. The Allied forceshad already landed long ago in Normandy and marched up the German countryside andwere on the outskirts of Bavaria. An order was given by the high command to killall remaining political prisoners so there would be no trace of the atrocitiesthat were performed during those war years.

And so, an order was given to kill all the people in Dachau as well. And7,500 weary souls that had been weak and sick and tired and hungry, were taken ona death march through the gates of Dachau towards the mountains, executed bymachine guns and buried by bulldozers so there would be no trace of any ofthis.

Liberation Part II: I'd Never Seen a Plane Before (65K, 50 seconds)

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And as we weremarching down the road, on both sides of the column were SS soldiers withsubmachine guns. Behind us, several kilometers back, was a personnel carrier. Any people that could not make it, they would fall along the way, they would beshot along the road and the detail would take them over to the side of the roadwhere they would be buried. We could hear these shots in the distance. We knewwhat was happening.

On the third day into the march, I saw two small planes in the sky. I hadnever seen a plane before in my life. And suddenly they made a 180 degree turn,they saw a column of people or troops and they came down low. They dropped onebomb behind the column and one bomb in front of it, to see what was moving. Andas they came down low the German soldiers began shouting, "Everyone get down. Hitthe ground, get down." And everyone got down and the SS lay down in the ditches. But I'd never seen a plane before.

Liberation Part III: "I Wish I Could Do That" (60K, 45 seconds)

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So I stood up and Icould see the planes come down at tree top levels. I could see the greenfuselage with a white star painted on it. I could see the pilot with a leathercap and a flying jacket they wore during World War II, with a lambs wool collarand his goggles. I could see him looking out on both sides and what he saw -- hemust have been horrified himself -- seeing us, being marched to somewhere by SStroops. I could even see his patch, his big yellow patch on his shoulder, and Iwas thinking how wonderful it is to be to be able to just pull up and fly away. I wish I could do that.

And before my thought had left my mind, it was gone in the sky. I couldn't seehim anymore. The SS began shouting, "Get up and let's move on. Get up and let'smove on. " Everybody was getting up and began rushing forward. The two pilotsmade another sweep, came around again. And they began strafing along the ditcheswhere the SS were marching.

Liberation IV: Escape (70K, one minute)

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And again they shouted, everyone get downand hit the ground. And again I stood up. I looked to the planes and then tothe right of me, within 300 feet of the clearance, or 300 yards, there was aforest.

I began running toward the forest. My father was with me, he ran after me, andthere were a few other people began running too. The planes just took off andthey were gone.

And the Germans began shouting, "Zuruck or we'll shoot. Stop or we'll shoot." And we kept running and running and running. Suddenly I could hear shotswhistling past my ears. I could see people falling on either side of me. Andagain they shouted, "Halt or we'll shoot." I saw people raise their arms, turnaround, and begin walking back to the column.

I was only 100 yards from the forest and I kept praying to God. I said, Godplease let me live, I hope I don't get shot or if I must get shot I hope it's inmy shoulder or in my arm. Or somewhere where I can still keep running and I hopeit's not in my leg. Because if I get hit in the leg I will fall down and they'llget me. I'm so close to the trees.

Liberation: Conclusion, May 5, 1945 (85 K, one minute and 20 seconds)

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I was within the trees. So Ijust ran through the trees and kept running and running until I couldn't see theroad or light anymore. My father and about 10 or 11 other people went withme.

The SS gathered together all he could and they marched on. They took the 75or 7600 people to Tyrol, to the mountains, where they were all executed andburied.

We lived in the forest for three days. On May 5, 1945, we heard tanks and Iwalked slowly to the edge of the forest to look out. I could see a column oftanks coming slowly up the road. And before they came even to where I was, Ishouted to my Dad, "Look, there are those tanks that have white stars on them,just like the planes. They're not German. They don't have the Iron Cross onthem."

I saw the soldiers sitting on top of the tanks and they wore helmets. Theywere not the German helmets either. It was Patton's Tank Battalion, the 12thArmored Division. We began running to them and they saw our uniforms, ourstriped uniforms, they knew we were prisoners. They could tell how sick and weakwe were. They took us on the tanks and took us into Munich. And that was on May5, three days before the end of the war. So I think that God must have hadsomething to do with that too.

What is my purpose in being here today? (50K, 30 seconds)

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What is my purpose in beinghere today? First off, what you have just heard is not the story of a victim. It is the story of a former victim who made a success of his life by learningearly in his youth that he must let go of anger and resentment in order to focushis available mental energies towards the future, for a better life for himselfand for his loved ones.

Because of my decision at age 16 to put hate on hold, it freed my heart fromanger, thus enabling me to direct all my available energies -- mental and others-- to forge a productive life for myself, and later for my family.

Students' Letters (70K, one minute)

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Dear Mr. Gordon:

Thank you for teaching me not to take things for granted. Especially myfamily. I know it was hard and I'm sorry. I have lots of fights with mybrother, and we get hurt. After reading your story, I've stopped fighting. Thank you for teaching me to love my brother.

Signed Richard

Another high school student:

Dear Mr. Gordon:

Your speech touched me in many ways. I would like to thankyou for taking the time to share your experiences. I will remember the lessonthat you taught us and try to keep peace with other people. The next time I havea dispute with someone, I will remember what you went through and try to settleit in a peaceful manner.

Now this was from a high school boy, from a macho high school boy, can yourealize the humility and the depth of his feeling. Obviously this person wastouched.

Copyright 1995 Harold Gordon All rights reserved. This material may not be reprinted orreproduced in any form without written permission.

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