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Tallahassee man remembers father, a Holocaust survivor, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Posted at 10:43 PM, Jan 29, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-29 22:43:06-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Mark Friedemann's father was a holocaust survivor, but for many years they didn't know much about what had happened until his father won a court case in 1996 to recover his home in Poland. That's when Friedemann learned about his father's history.

"We knew he was in a camp but he never really talked about it," Friedemann said. "But in '96 he took me to Poland and the entire history was of what happened to him and his family was laid out in front of me and it was pretty shocking."

Friedemann says one of his father's most important memories was being in isolation and hearing a voice in a neighboring cell tell him encouraging words.

"He found it to be kind of ironic being the place that they were but he told my father don't give up hope, keep your hope alive," Friedemann explained.

His father converted to Catholicism after being liberated from the concentration camps. That's also how Friedemann was raised but once he found out about his Jewish heritage it was important for him to learn about the family he lost. He estimates more than 50 family members died during the holocaust.

"I feel a deep connection to my ancestry just from the matter of justice and morality, these things speak to me for the fact that I lost my entire family," he said.

Sophie Freedman is the Ezra Educator for FSU Hillel, which is an organization for Jewish students. She says with direct voices from the holocaust passing away it's important now more than ever to remember the atrocities that happened.

"Making sure that we're consistently never forgetting, we're passing on the memories, we're passing on the legacy and we're passing on the information from past generations and making sure that it never happens again," Freedman said.

Friedmann's father even wrote a book about his experiences before he died from his early life to when Poland was invaded.

"His experiences in the camps, and his liberation, his attempt to get back to Poland, and coming to America and joining the army," Friedemann said.

Once Friedemann knew about his father's past it was important for him to help document it.

"I played an instrumental role in the research and to this day we're still finding out what happened to certain relatives. We just recently found out what happened to his mother," he said.

Friedemann says it's important to remember what happened in the Holocaust so it never happens again.

"To keep those stories alive and to use those stories to impart knowledge to the younger generations so they don't forget those kind of things can happen even now," Friedemann said.

The book Friedemann's father wrote about his experiences is currently only in Polish. He's working to get it published in English so more people can learn about his fathers story.