A Holocaust survivor, Murray Jaros has seen the worst of humanity. He’s also seen the best. Jaros will speak Thursday, May 16, at 6:30 p.m. in the Schroon Lake Central School auditorium at the invitation of the student National Honor Society. The program is free and open to the community.
continued One night a few SS officers and a group of collaborators identified the Jaros family as Jewish and broke into their home. As Jaros and a young cousin watched, his grandmother was beaten. She eventually died of her injuries. His mother and father were stripped naked, beaten and tortured as the Nazis demanded gold and money — which the Jaros family didn’t have. When the pain became too much and the parents passed out, the intruders threw water on them and repeated the process.
“I wanted to do something; I wanted to help my parents,” Jaros said. “But I couldn’t move. My feet were stuck to the floor. I’ll never forget the cries, the painful screams. They tore out my father’s toe nails.”
When the SS gave up their pursuit of gold, the Jaros family was placed in a truck and taken to the local school. There they found the town’s Jews, all locked in the building. They were held several days without food or water.
During that time a local priest was allowed to visit. A friend of Jaros family, he smuggled in bread and water. He became a central figure in the family’s survival.
The Jews were then taken to a ghetto built by the Nazis to contain them. Enclosed by barbed wire and guarded by Nazi soldiers, the ghetto became home to hundreds of people who struggled to find medicine, food and water.
Before the war Jaros’ mother, Belka, operated a general store. She was known for her compassion and kindness, allowing people to buy on credit and giving a little extra when people made purchases.
Realizing the plight of the Jaros family and others in the ghetto, the friendly priest visited area farmers asking them to provide food for the Jews. “Belka was good to you,” the priest would tell farmers. “Now, you must be good to Belka.” The plea worked and the priest was able to smuggle food and water into the ghetto for a year.