Holocaust Survivor Shares Story with QCUSD Students

Werner Salinger sitting and telling his story

Werner Salinger is one of 70 Holocaust survivors currently living in Arizona. He visited Eastmark High School to share his story of surviving the Holocaust and coming to America.

Salinger shared his most vivid memory, which was Kristallnacht, also called "Night of Broken Glass". It was the night when synagogues were torched, Jewish homes, schools, and businesses were vandalized, and hundreds were killed. Salinger lived on the second floor of an apartment in the heart of Berlin and recalls being six years old seeing all the broken glass on the street and smelling the smoke from the burning of synagogues (with an order for the fire departments to not put out the fires).

Werner Salinger onlooking two students while telling his story

He spoke of the Nuremberg laws and how they affected his year in kindergarten.

"As a young kid, I remember going to kindergarten in Germany, and there was a mix. The Jews and non-Jews before the [Nuremberg laws], became law," recalls Salinger. "and then, all of the sudden, I couldn't go to kindergarten because I was Jewish. I could only go to school with other kids who were Jews."

On February 12, 1939, he moved to America, where he lived in Maryland. He joined the US Air Force when the Korean War broke out and was stationed in Germany, about two miles from the Iron Curtain, also known as the Berlin Wall. It was there he met his wife.

Audience sitting on the bleachers listening to Werner

Salinger shared his favorite thing about the United States and how his experience with the Holocaust affected his current outlook on modern-day life.

"When you go through Kristallnacht and you have family who have been part of the camps, it has helped me become more aware of what could happen," explains Salinger. "And one of the great things about this country is freedom...the opportunity that people have in their life, pretty much without limitations."

Today, Salinger has four children, six grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

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