Within the red plushy seats of the Huntley High School auditorium sat half of the students in the freshman history classes World Geography and World History and its honors counterpart. Also within the auditorium were community members all coming to hear the presentation that intrigued the souls and softened the hearts of many.
Lisl Bogart’s story is not of a political figure or a famous celebrity. It is the story of a holocaust survivor.
Born in the city of Prague and the youngest of two children, she lived as any other child would. She had nice clothing, a good education, and a loving family. That lifestyle soon changed as the Nazis invaded her town.
Things started to go downhill as the Germans slowly invaded, according to Bogart. Her teacher threatened her and despised her very being, and on that same night her father was taken from the shop that he owned and told that he was never to work again. With a sign on the door, he went home- no Jews allowed under Jewish management.
After a few days, the Bogarts, except her brother, were taken out of Prague and transferred to the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp. She was the only one to survive out of her family after experiencing the horrors of living in the camp.
The only thing that kept Bogart going was the relationships she gained while living in the camp. They supported each other and kept each other going. Bogart told of a story when she was hit with the butt of a gun in her foot and she fell over. Without her friends nearby, she would have not have gotten up. Without them, she would have been dead.
With six million Jews killed in the holocaust, those who survived are the living tale of courage, strength, and determination.
“The whole world knew,” said Bogart. “The world was quiet while we were being killed.”
After each elimination at Theresienstatdt, Bogart remarkably was not chosen for death. Might it be by faith or God’s will said Bogart she stayed alive.
On Bogart’s birthday, May 7, 1945, Theresienstatdt was liberated although she did not know it. She was unconscious with the Typhoid virus in the hospital. She knew that the camp had been liberated after she regained consciousness. Sitting in her hospital bed, she saw her friend out the window with a thick slice of white bread. Then she knew she was free, said Bogart.
Bogart now lives in the Chicagoland area telling her story of genocide. She tells her story of how no person should feel inferior to another and to stop the “bullying act” that later led to the genocide of different people throughout history.
“We don’t want them to be forgotten, so we tell our stories for them,” said Bogart. “Those fallen should not be forgotten for they will stay within our hearts.”
The Holocaust happened because of the ignorance to accept others differences. Almost an entire population of people were wiped from the planet because they were simply different from one another. Bogart reaches into the heart of the next generation to explain how bullying and arrogance can start a genocide.
Photos courtesy of Mike Krebs.