On Thursday, April 20, New Hope Academy had the honor of hosting David Tuck, a Holocaust survivor. Mr. Tuck was accompanied by Geoffrey Quinn, Education Director for the Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center. The presentation began with Mr. Quinn giving a brief presentation of the Holocaust. Students were informed of the events that led up to the Nazi occupation of Europe and were shown pictures of the concentration camps and the inmates. The magnitude of the atrocities and the suffering was intensified when Mr. Tuck spoke. He described how his life literally changed on one single day: September 1, 1939, the day Germany invaded Poland. He was 10 years old in 1941, when he was deported to Posen, a labor camp. Eventually, he would be transported to Auschwitz, Mauthausen, and Gusen II.
Mr. Tuck described how the inmates had virtually no food to eat on a daily basis, how they were forced to work while fighting serious illness, and how the fear of death became a constant in their lives. But he also spoke of his deep faith and of his enduring hope that he would survive. He said that every night, when he would lay down in his bunk, he would pray to God to see the light of day again.
On May 5, 1945, the Americans liberated Gusen II and the inmates were freed. Mr. Tuck said that to him, freedom was food; at the time of his liberation, he weighed only 78 pounds. In fact, when the Allied soldiers gave the emaciated survivors food, they had to warn them, despite their voracious hunger, not to eat too much too quickly. Mr. Tuck came to America in 1950 with his wife. They lived in Brooklyn before settling in Pennsylvania. He shared personal pictures of his family, including some of his parents and his grandparents. After taking some questions from the audience, Mr. Tuck implored the audience to never stop believing that they have the power to change the world, that hope can never die, and that the strength of the human spirit is the most vital force.