74ºF

Holocaust survivors share stories of those who saved them in new exhibit

Free exhibit on display at Jewish Family & Community Services for 9 months

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A new exhibit in Jacksonville is bringing awareness to the courage of the people who stepped in to rescue Jews from genocide by the Nazis during World War ll.

"They risked their lives to save people that they didn't know and sometimes, did even like," photographer Gay Block said.

Block is the artist behind the exhibit. She interviewed more than 100 rescuers in different countries. And now she is sharing their stories of bravery and courage to share with students and community members in Jacksonville. 

"Education in this country needs a lot of work. People don't want to know that Jews were killed, there are a lot of Holocaust deniers and it's a crazy thing," Block said.

IMAGES: Holocaust Memorial Gallery unveiled with photographer, Holocaust survivors

Claire Soria was a Jewish girl raised in Brussels during the 1940s. Her mother knew their family was in danger so she found a Christian family willing to take her daughter in as their own when she was 6 years old.

"I was forbidden to go to school, I was forbidden to be out. I had to stay hidden. And I had to change my name and pretend that I was someone I wasn't," Soria said.

She soon found out that her mother, father, aunts and uncles were taken to concentration camps.

"Every time I was told that another member of my family was taken away, I cried my eyes out because I couldn't understand why (I had) the feeling of shame and the feeling of being less than anybody else," she said.

Her parents were killed in the Nazi death camp in Auschwitz. 

After the war, she came to America to live with distant relatives. But had it not been for the family who took her in, she said she probably wouldn't be alive today.

Soria has been telling her story and hopes to make others understand the risks people had to take back then to save her and other Jews.

"Only by learning from the past, can we make sure the future is a better place for the young people of tomorrow," Soria said.

The rescuers' exhibit will be on display at the Jewish Family & Community Services building in Jacksonville for free over the next nine months.