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A Story of Survival

On Monday, November 4, Clearwater Christian College was pleased to host Mr. Philip Gans, a survivor of the Auschwitz Holocaust death camp. Mr. Gans presented his survival story to several hundred students, faculty, staff, and visitors. Attendees were captivated by the vivid story of Mr. Gans’ capture, survival, and preservation during the Jewish Holocaust.

Opening his presentation, Mr. Gans challenged the CCC assembly to change their thinking. “Remove ‘hate’ from your vocabulary,” he said. “You will never know peace until you erase hate. The Nazi’s were all about hate. Take the dictionary and cross out the word. Where there is no hate, there is all peace.”

Philip Gans was born in Amsterdam, Holland, on January 23, 1928. When the Nazis began invading the areas around his home in August, 1942, he went into hiding until his arrest on July 24, 1943. “Anne Frank was fifty miles from where I was hiding,” said Mr. Gans.

At age 15, he, his grandmother, father, mother, sister, and brother were captured and sent to Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Of the several family members captured along with Mr. Gans, he is the sole survivor. “The Nazi’s did everything they could to make our lives miserable,” he said. “Starvation was a permanent guest at Auschwitz and the average lifespan was four months; I was there for 17.”

During a short question and answer time at the close of his presentation, Mr. Gans was asked the question, “How do you mentally go back to Auschwitz every time you tell your story?” In his prolific way, Mr. Gans simply answered, “I just do. If I don’t tell it, who is going to? It’s very emotional, but I have to do it.”

Melody Smith, a CCC church ministries major, said, “I was eager to be able to hear about the concentration camps from someone who had experienced it. I know there were few who left the camps alive, and there are even fewer who are still here with us now. It was an unforgettable opportunity to be able to imagine it from the view of someone who went through it instead of reading it on the pages of a textbook. I know future generations will never have that opportunity.” Today, Mr. Gans speaks to schools, colleges, and assemblies across the country about his survivor story. “This may be the last time you hear a Holocaust survival story from an actual survivor,” he said. “You will have to tell your children. You have to tell the story. You have to erase hate.” “Erase Hate. Prisoner #139755.”