Holocaust survivor, 90, makes first visit to US Holocaust Memorial Museum with Triangle students

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Monday, April 1, 2019
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Holocaust survivor, 90, makes first visit to US Holocaust Memorial Museum with Triangle students

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- A Holocaust survivor living in the Triangle is preparing for a very emotional trip to the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. This will be Abe Piasek's first trip to the museum, and he'll be doing it with high school students from the Triangle.

Abe Piasek's very candid when asked how he feels about visiting the museum for the first time. The 90-year-old Holocaust survivor, who tells his story in classrooms and social gatherings around the Triangle, says the kids are the reason he's going.

"I really didn't want to go," he said with a smile. "But the kids are going."

The kids are students in Steve Goldberg's high school history class at Research Triangle High School . They're traveling to Washington D.C. on Saturday for a field trip to the museum, accompanied by Piasek.

"The years that he was in the forced labor camps, in the concentration camps, between 11 and 16, is the age of the students. So they can make a contrast between their life and Abe's life," said Goldberg.

"At the beginning it was very hard," said Piasek while reflecting on his life as a Jewish child in Nazi concentration camps. "And even today, the past four or five years it's been difficult. But I have to say it, and tell them what happened to an 11-year-old kid."

Goldberg said the field trip is a tremendous opportunity.

"I mean, he's 90, and willing to talk about it. There are very few people who meet that intersection, still, today. So it's an amazing opportunity," Goldberg said.

Piasek is a paid member of the Holocaust Museum, but he's never been inside.

After Piasek spoke to his class, Goldberg helped to organize a GoFundMe page to support the visit by Piasek and his family. In less than a month, they're already very close to their $2,500 goal.

Piasek wonders if he'll meet other survivors at the museum on Saturday.

"If I do, I'm going to ask them where they are, where they come from, which camps they were, and we'll go from there," Piasek said. "I probably will learn a little bit more from other survivors. Right now, I'm only speaking for myself. I cannot speak for somebody else."

He's already told Goldberg's history students about the effects conditions in the camps had on his clothing. When the Allies liberated him and others held against their will, he got rid of his old clothing.

"I threw everything away and I burned 'em. Because you were really affected by lice. It was terrible. Without a shower for five years, you can imagine," he said.

He and Goldberg are prepared to help students process what they see inside the museum on what could be an emotional day.

"Because I know what's over there. I know shoes, maybe my shoes, could be there," Piasek said.

Clothing and photographs displayed there could also spark more student questions that Piasek says he's ready to answer.