Holocaust survivor Paul Molnar captivated Pine View students and faculty Friday, March 20 when he shared his inspiring story at the conclusion of Save Darfur Week.
Born in 1929 in Hungary, fourteen-year-old Molnar was living a normal life with this family. That all changed March 19, 1944, when German soldiers moved into Hungary and created a whole new government. Every Jew was forced to wear a yellow star to indicate their ethnicity. “It not only affected our livelihood, but it also affected our lives,” Molnar said. “It was humiliating that we had to wear a yellow star because we thought we weren’t the same as everyone else. It was shameful.”
Molnar, his family and hundreds of other Jews were then transported in cattle cars to a concentration camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau. When Molnar reached Auschwitz-Birkenau, German soldiers separated his family; he was told to go to the right whereas his younger brother and grandmother were told to go to the left. “My mother and I were told to go to the right but she said that she had to take care of her younger brother and my grandmother. I just hugged her and said goodbye. It was the last time I saw her,” Molnar said. Eventually, Molnar found his cousin and uncle in the concentration camp.
Molnar talked about his experiences in different concentration camps and how he managed to survive them. “I would daydream, always thinking about food. I forgot how an orange or banana tasted like, ” Molnar said.
Eleventh-grader vice president of Save Darfur Club Brody McCurdy made arrangements for Molnar to come speak at Pine View. “[Molnar] came to my old school, St. Martha’s, to talk to an audience like ours about his experiences in the Holocaust,” McCurdy said. “I talked to my old history teacher about it and arranged it for him to come.”
“We wanted a speaker who experienced genocide and could connect with the audience,” twelfth-grade president of Save Darfur Club Naba Rahman said.
Today Molnar resides in Sarasota and is happily living with his big family. He actively speaks to everyone about his eye-opening story. “I remember I could never talk about it. It was just too much,” Molnar said. “My daughter-in-law took me by the hand and took me to the Holocaust museum in Michigan. They told me that what happened to me will not happen again. Now I am one of the most active speakers [in the Sarasota County district].”
Molnar enjoyed talking to Pine View about his experiences. “[The audience] was a bright group. There were many good questions and I knew that my point had gotten across.”