It was standing room only on Jan. 28 when Rowan College of South Jersey (RCSJ) students filled the lecture hall to hear Helen Bouton, of Voorhees, share her experiences as a concentration camp survivor during the Holocaust.
A native of the Carpathian mountain region of Czechoslovakia, Bouton was held in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp from the age of 15, under the supervision of the infamous Josef Mengele (aka “The Angel of Death”) during the German occupation of 1943. Following her parents’ death in the crematorium, she was moved to a German ammunition factory, and finally to a camp at Bergen-Belsen before being liberated at 17 years old.
“More than six million Jews and gypsies died. I want people to know the truth about the Holocaust and not allow it to happen again,” said Bouton, who was accompanied to the campus by her daughter, Monique Bouton Kadesh. “I want young people to always remember to fight against discrimination and prejudice, to stand up against it and to be nice to everyone.”
The College’s Diversity Committee, in association with the Esther Raab Holocaust Museum & Goodwin Education Center, sponsored the “Voices of Hope: Surviving the Holocaust” presentation, working together to help reduce prejudice and lessen hatred, bigotry and violence against all groups.
“I want people to be aware of where prejudice can lead. It’s important to listen to individuals like Ms. Bouton tell this story,” said RCSJ student Rion Hammond. “People need to understand that, at the end of the day, we are all the same. We are all human and should be treated as such.”