Robert Behr, survivor volunteer with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, came to Conway to share his story as a German Jew during World War II.
Behr survived Nazi persecution and was deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1942. The camp was liberated by the Soviet Army in 1945, and in 1947 Behr immigrated to the United States where he enlisted in the U.S. Army.
“The Nazi hatred was based on race, not religion,” Behr told the crowd in the Conway High School auditorium Monday night. “It was your blood that was bad.”
He said as he was growing up, at first he would laugh when someone would say he was a bad person simply because he was Jewish. After a while, laughter would fade to disgust as the accusations continued. Soon, disgust turned into doubt. Could it be true? Were Jewish people inherently bad?
Now, when Behr meets German citizens, he said he tries not to hold resentment. With younger Germans, he is as nice to them as they are to him.
“They were not part of it,” he said. “I do not hate people because they are German.”
If he were to meet a German who was his age, he would question what they did during the war.
Behr, who turned 92 earlier this month, implored the audience to speak up when something was wrong in order to prevent future tragedies like the Holocaust.
“When you see injustice in the world, try not to turn away,” he said.