Isaac Klein is standing arm-in-arm with his wife at the edge of three small steps. They lead down to a pond that surrounds Kenneth Treiester’s famous Sculpture of Love and Anguish.
Klein shared his personal account of tragedy at the hands of the Nazis. “I will tell you a little story, a sad story about myself,” he said. “I am a holocaust survivor and one of the twins of Dr. Joseph Mengele.”
At 13 years old, Klein was taken from his family's farm in Czechoslovakia to a Jewish ghetto and eventually transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, one of the most torturous labor and death camps in Poland.
“My brother lives in Israel but he’s different than I am. He’s not talking about the Holocaust. And as you know, we have many Holocaust survivors here in South Florida that don’t talk because the pain is still so great. I wish that there were more survivors like me that would talk because the world has to know what happened to the Jewish people.”
Klein was one of many attendees from South Florida’s Jewish community at last Sunday's annual Yom HaShoah ceremony at the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach. Approximately 10,000 survivors currently live in Miami-Dade County.
“This service has been taking place since the day the Holocaust Memorial was created," said Jacob Solomon, president and CEO of The Greater Miami Jewish Federation. "There are other Yom HaShoah commemorations around town. But for us at the federation, this is the central commemoration for the entire Miami-Dade Jewish community.”
The theme of this year's ceremony was transition as the number of eyewitnesses and victims of the Holocaust dwindle while Holocaust denial movements expand around the world.
“It’s so incredibly important to recognize the importance of these lessons,” said Solomon. “They are universal and must never be forgotten. We are so fortunate to still have these survivors who tell us their stories.”