Holocaust survivor reflects on his past to prevent bullying in schools

TMAAT October 24, 2012

By Josephine Asher

Jozef Vissel asks, “Would you put yourself and your family at risk to help a stranger?”

He was orphaned during the Second World War in Holland as a Jewish child.

He owes his survival to the people who had the courage to care for him, disguise him as a Dutch child and even pretend he was their own son, despite putting their own lives at risk.

To some, his story merely blends into the plethora of tragedies in World War II history.

But Jozef sees that the need for courage to help others is not isolated to times of war – it is relevant to situations we encounter every day.

That’s why Joe, along with other Holocaust survivors, shares his story with children, in hope to reduce bullying in schools.

The program is called Courage to Care and it is an educational history exhibition with speakers that visits regional areas.

The major messages the program seeks to deliver to students are that they have a choice when confronted with situations involving prejudice, racism or bullying behavior. They can (like the majority at the time of the Holocaust) be a passive by-stander, or they can find a way to stand up for what they know to be right.

Jozef knows he wouldn’t have survived without the courage of so many people who braved shame, imprisonment and death to make sure he saw life after war.

He was seven when the Nazis began raiding Jewish homes at night in Amsterdam and sending them to death camps. His father unknowingly volunteered to work at the camps. His mother was taken away, but not before she sought help from the resistance movement.

Watch him tell his story in this video on YouTube, produced by Two Men and a Truck, a sponsor for the upcoming Anne Frank Exhibition in Australia. https://www.youtube.com/embed/frBTcZ0Z5zU

The travelling exhibition, which has reached 55 countries, will begin its Australian tour in Melbourne on 4th February 2013.

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