Local Holocaust Survivor’s Online Q&A Goes Viral

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Holocaust was the worst atrocity of the 20th century but now 21st century technology is allowing survivors to teach new generations so that it’s never forgotten and never repeated.

Henry Flescher, of Aventura, is one of those survivors. For years he’s spoken to groups about his experiences. Now at the age of 92, you could say he’s gone viral.

CBS4’s Rick Folbaum spoke one-on-one with Flescher about using tech and social media to reach a whole new worldwide audience.

“Isn’t it crazy,” Folbaum asked. “Here you are using 21st century technology to reach so many more people.”

“It amazes me. The whole thing amazes me,” he replied.

A few weeks ago, Flescher’s grandson flew down to visit from New York with an idea. He wanted to use the internet to allow people to ask his grandfather about the Holocaust on Reddit’s popular “Ask Me Anything” online forum.  Henry had never heard of the social news website, but he was game.

“He told me he was very excited.  I didn’t understand that it would be so fantastic, that so many people would be interested in what happened 71 years ago,” Flescher told Folbaum.

Almost 9,000 questions were submitted. Flescher would answer while his grandson would type.

As a survivor of six different concentration camps, the most popular question: How did he make it out alive?

“How did I survive? I went day by day. I would get up at 5 a.m. and work, and later at night, I’d steal a carrot or a potato. You had to take advantage of certain moments,” Flescher explained.

He said that he and his fellow prisoners were told flat out that they would never make it out alive — something Flescher, himself, never actually believed.

“Some people took it serious and gave up life. I went along. I’m here. And every day I went out and saw the sun and I did so as long as I could,” he said.

He was finally liberated on April 11th, 1945 — his second birthday, he calls it.

Flescher tells his story because it needs to be told. If technology can help him do that, fine – but he’s still pretty old-fashioned.

“Do you text,” Folbaum asked.

“I don’t text,” Flescher said, flashing an old school piece of wireless tech.

“Ah, it’s a flip phone!” Folbaum exclaimed.

“I don’t text, there’s no reason for it. I want to talk to my kids. I want to talk to my grandchildren,” he said.

Talk, he does. He also dances and travels. This June, he’s going to Berlin to see the Holocaust museum there.

“I make reservations, then I go. I do things,” he said.

As the two stepped out into the sun, shades flipped on, Folbaum told him, “You know, I think people would live through what you lived through and not be able to recover mentally.”

Flescher offered up some sagely advice.

“But yesterday’s gone. Yesterday is history. Today’s reality. Tomorrow’s a dream. There’s nothing I can do. I can only go forward. And this is my dream – I want to live,” he said.

We could all learn a thing or two from Mr. Flescher.

The Holocaust Memorial on Miami Beach will host this year’s Holocaust Remembrance Day on Sunday, May 1st.

Speaking of technology, visitors can download the memorial’s app to enhance their visit.

More from Rick Folbaum
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