Rudy Herz, Part 5 | S.C. Voices: Lessons from the Holocaust
Born in Cologne, Germany, in 1925, Rudy Herz heard of Hitler in school when, in 1935, textbooks took on a Germanic nationalistic slant, the Swastika flag was flown, and Jews lost privileges. His family was moved to a Jewish ghetto; the living conditions were horrible. Finally, the Herz family was sent to Auschwitz in sealed cattle cars. Some relatives never resurfaced. The conditions in the camp were desperate—surrounded by guards, people were starving, slowly being destroyed by inhuman work or the crematorium. There was no greenery, no life, no dignity. Germans told Jewish prisoners that before it was over, they would die. "Americans don't know what it's like to starve for years," Herz says. He lived with the constant sound of screams. In 1945 the prisoners were liberated and told, "You are free; the Americans are behind you." He was reunited with his brother and settled in Myrtle Beach. His experiences still haunt him. "I have survivors' guilt; my soul stays in a crematorium with victims at Auschwitz."