Holocaust survivor Roman Kent was a teenager during the war.
“I was born in Poland and I was in ghetto in Poland and then I was in concentration camps,” Kent said.
“He survived the Lodz ghetto, he survived Auschwitz, he survived Mertzbachtal, and Dornau and Flossenburg, and he was being marched to Dachau when he was being liberated by American forces,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.
He told his brother it might be his last day. That same day, Kent was liberated.
“The United States government took about 5,000 children of orphans,” Kent said. “I, together with my brother, was a group of orphans that came to the United States. It is indeed a miracle that we, as victims of the Nazi persecution, did survive.”
Tuesday, in Germany, Russia, Israel, and the United States, Holocaust survivors were honored.
“The story of Hanukkah resonates the story of those who survived the Holocaust. Both are instances of the few surviving oppression by the many,” Kent said.
The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany began the International Holocaust Survivor’s Night last year. The nonprofit works to secure material compensation for Holocaust survivors. The German government has paid more than $80 billion since 1952.
“And only one person, who is the neshuma — the soul — who channels the needs and the suffering of the survivors to the German government,” said Claims Conference Chief of Staff Arie Bucheister.
The man is Kent, who is the co-chair of the Claims Conference Negotiating Delegation, and also a close friend of Murphy’s.
“Nearly two-thirds of our millennial generation cannot identify what Auschwitz was,” Murphy said. “All of us here who listened have a responsibility to tell your stories to successive generations.”
The governor stood with Holocaust survivors as he lit the menorah. Kent says there could not be a better testimony than the voices of children singing about Hanukkah.