99-year-old Holocaust survivor offers powerful testimony at Minnesota capitol

A bill to standardize Holocaust education in Minnesota is currently making its way through committees at the state capitol. On Wednesday, it had a vigorous supporter in Dora Zaidenweber, a 99-year-old Holocaust survivor.

When the Nazis set out to murder millions of Jews during World War II, Zaidenweber was one of just a few people in her family to survive the massacre; escaping to America in 1950.

But even then, hardship wasn’t entirely behind her, as she would encounter many who didn’t believe her account of what had happened.

"It happened so often that coming home I was really crying," Zaidenweber said. "I had really terrible experiences just for being Jewish."

In front of the House Education Policy committee, the 99-year-old pleaded with lawmakers to approve the Holocaust and Genocide Education Bill; a bill that would require Minnesota middle and high schools to educate students about the Holocaust and indigenous genocides.

"People have to understand to learn to live with each other, and that is only through understanding and education," Zaidenweber said.

Jewish Wayzata high school student Max Walstien also spoke out on the dangers of downplaying or denying our world’s history.

"Kids at my school were not understanding of what happened, of how horrible the events were… the Holocaust is one of the most denied events in history, and that denial goes onto fuel antisemitism which has been on the rise for years," Walstien said. "We need to prioritize teaching about the Holocaust to ensure that it never occurs again."

Around the table, all committee members agreed, sending the bill ahead to the Education Finance Committee in a unanimous vote.

If eventually signed into law, the bill would make Minnesota the 23rd state to require some form of Holocaust or genocide education.