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Holocaust survivor reveals what stopped him from committing suicide

Britt Jones

Published 
| Last updated 

Holocaust survivor reveals what stopped him from committing suicide

Featured Image Credit: Penn State / Zachor Foundation

A Holocaust survivor took to Reddit to share what prevented him from taking his own life when forced into Nazi concentration camps.

Ben Lesser is a 94-year-old teacher and writer on a mission to 'prevent the world from developing amnesia and help young people live lives that matter' through sharing his story.

The hardships detailed by Lesser brought the users of Reddit to ask him the questions they wanted answers to the most, such as how he kept himself distracted when in Auschwitz, to whether he had considered ending his own life to escape the pain.

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Introducing himself to the soon-to-be thousands of users under his thread, Lesser wrote: “My name is Ben Lesser and I am a 94-year-old survivor of Nazi death trains, death marches, and camps including Auschwitz and Dachau.”

Credit: Reddit/YouTube
Credit: Reddit/YouTube

Lesser was born in Krakow, Poland, in 1928 where he and his family were subsequently captured a number of years later by the Nazis after trying to survive the awful regime which targeted the Jewish population and minority groups.

Lesser shared his life story to those on the popular platform, writing: “Over the five years of the war, I was fortunate to survive several ghettos, as well as the notorious camps of Auschwitz, Buchenwald, and finally be liberated in Dachau.”

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Unfortunately, during this time, his entire family, with the exception of his older sister, were killed by the Nazis.

When one user questioned the teacher on 'what motivated' him to keep going and 'not commit suicide', his response proved to show his inner strength, despite all that he’d been through.

He answered: “I was too busy trying to live and prevent dying. Suicide never entered my thoughts.

“Life is too precious give up. I encourage people to do everything possible to prolong life."

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Sharing his thoughts on suicide, Lesser explained that 'there are always ways to live a life that matters, it's never too late'.

“It’s essential to understand the consequences of personal choices. It’s possible to let trauma get in the way of living a life with meaning but we have the ability to choose our responses and find ways to grow and learn from our experiences," he added.

“Also, there are many great outreach programs for people who struggle with suicidal thoughts. I encourage people who are struggling to take action and not wait. Your life is too precious.”

His answer contained a wonderful message to those in need of guidance, which might be why he was able to survive everything and become such a driving force of positivity and education on the Holocaust.

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After the liberation of camps at the end of the war, Lesser was able to immigrate to the United States and create a new life for himself and later met his wife, Jean, in 1950.

Ben Lesser answered Reddit's questions about the Holocaust. Credit: Reddit / Ben Lesser / BenLesser_Zachor
Ben Lesser answered Reddit's questions about the Holocaust. Credit: Reddit / Ben Lesser / BenLesser_Zachor

He said: “Over the years, I became a successful realtor in Los Angeles and after retiring in 1995, I have devoted my time to being a volunteer to speak in colleges and schools about the Holocaust.”

“I wrote a book about my experiences, entitled Living a Life that Matters.”

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Not only did Lesser write a book about his life, but he was also awarded a medal for his dedication to speaking about his time in Nazi Germany on March 14 this year.

He wrote on Reddit: “Some people have commented on the cross shaped medal I am wearing in my photo. I was recently honored by the Republic of Germany with their Order of Merit. I wear that medal with pride.”

Topics: News, World News, Germany, Education

Britt Jones
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