SCRANTON -- High school students from our area heard stories Tuesday that are becoming increasingly rare: firsthand accounts from survivors of the Holocaust.
It was part of the annual Holocaust symposium put on by the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Elly Gross says her life's purpose was determined in 1945 when she was 16 years old. That's when she was liberated from a Nazi concentration camp.
"I think this is my main story of my life."
It's a tough story to tell, but she does it several times a year all over the country at events such as this one at the Hilton Scranton and Conference Center.
Gross was the only holocaust survivor in her family.
In 1995, she found a photo of her mother and brother walking into Auschwitz. They were murdered not long after the photo was taken, though Elly wouldn't find out for another two years.
"When I woke up, that was the hardest time of my life. When I realized what happened with us, that I'm an orphan and I have no one to take care of me. That was my hardest life," Gross said.
Over the course of the symposium, 1,500 high school students will hear from 13 Holocaust survivors.
"You always read about it in textbooks, and everybody gets the lessons and everything, but you never really get to really know what it feels like or you can't really understand how, until you really see someone who lived through it and you see their emotions and everything," said Sullivan West sophomore Kara Spath.
World War II veteran and Holocaust liberator Alan Moskin spoke to the whole group. Making up for lost time, Moskin never spoke about his experiences until 50 years after the war ended. He knows stories like his are becoming more and more rare.
"I tell these young people they got to get rid of the hate, the prejudice, and the bigotry," said Moskin. "It's up to them, my generation failed. I emphasize to them, the group today, and all these other groups I speak to, you're the last generation that's going to hear people like myself and the hidden children of the kinder transport, and the survivors."