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Sally Perel Telling Pupils the Story of his Life

On 18th February 2011, Sally Perel spoke before an audience of about 200 pupils crowding the projection room of Christian Rauch secondary school in Bad Arolsen on how he managed to survive the Holocaust. Over four long years of the National Socialist era, Perel had hidden right in his enemies’ midst feigning the identity of an “Ethnic German”. “I felt these years to be ages”, said the Israeli who wrote down his memories in the autobiographical book “Ich war Hitlerjunge Salomon” (I was Hitler-Boy Salomon) decades later.

Suspense and silence prevailed during the two-hour talk. But the contemporary witness of Nazi persecution time and again succeeded in easing his young audience’s emotional strain by giving a sample of his sense of humour and by meeting the teenagers at eye level in their every-day world, for instance by knowing and giving the answer to their question of how to pass the limit of 5000 friendship offers on Facebook. Perel visits schools at regular intervals to talk on what he lived through in his teenage years. “As long as my legs do carry me, I will give evidence”, said 85-year-old Perel. “While defeated on a military plane, Hitler is to be overcome on a rational one still. We must see to it that this demon will vanish for ever.”

That is why he sees and means his talk to be a sort of mission. “There are not so many more of us left. I have made and do leave new contemporary witnesses today. Do me the favour to pass on my story”, Perel gave the adolescents something tangible to take with them. The Israeli emphasized that he is not interested in “rousing feelings of guilt, but to enlighten the teenagers’ intellect. We can create a better world only by working together.”

A shortened version of Perel’s life story may be reread in the publication series the Historical Communication department of the Volkswagen AG brought out and titled “Überleben in Angst” (Survival in painful fear).