Holocaust survivor Max Eisen was in Saskatoon on Friday to share his story of strength and survival.
He spoke to 1,500 students from both the Catholic and public school divisions at the Cathedral of the Holy Family, while another 1,000 students watched his presentation by live stream.
“It started with words, and it ended in terrible places. We know where it ended,” Eisen said.
Eisen shared with students how his family was forced from their home, loaded into cattle cars, and sent to Auschwitz in 1944. He said men and women were separated upon arrival. Eisen’s parents, three siblings, and extended family were killed at the concentration camp.
“There were no goodbyes said here,” Eisen told the crowd.
At 15, Eisen said he spent months doing hard labour, surviving on 300 calories each day.
“In Auschwitz, one second was like a thousand years, and life depended from second to second.”
“You had to manage your mind, your brain. You were demonized. You were dehumanized.”
After being injured by a guard, Eisen underwent a surgery from a Polish political prisoner and physician, who gave him a job as a cleaner in the operating room — something he credits for his survival.
Eisen was liberated on May 6, 1945.
When he was 20, Eisen moved to Canada and currently lives in Toronto.
Eisen will share his story again at the Congregation Agudas Israel Synagogue in Saskatoon on Sunday afternoon.