Yesterday, Yad Vashem's annual awards for commitment and excellence in the field of holocaust education were awarded in a moving ceremony. The Edmond J. Safra Auditorium was filled to capacity with students, teachers, parents, educators, Holocaust survivors and their families.
The Lifetime Achievement Award in Holocaust Education was awarded to Holocaust survivor Asher Aud. Although retired, Asher is still very active and travels to Poland about 4-5 times a year. Despite the physical and emotional difficulties of these journeys, he knows how important they are, "it's not a trip, it's a job," he noted.
Asher generously devotes his time to speaking to soldiers, youth delegations, and the general public about his experiences during the Holocaust. "Apparently, I survived to tell the coming generations," explains Asher "and that is my mission in life. Every moment I am with children or soldiers, I experience victory." Asher attended the ceremony with his lovely wife, Chaya whom he lovingly thanked, remarking that "it's because of her that I stand here today." Asher thanked Yad Vashem for the privilege of receiving this special award and said that he stood here today, representing the 6 million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. He ended his words crying out emotionally, "Am Israel Chai!"
Asher Aud was born in 1928 in Zduńska Wola, Poland as Anshel Sieradzki to Jocheved and Shmuel Hirsh Sieradzki, a tailor. Asher had an older brother, Berl and a younger brother, Gabriel. In the spring of 1940, a ghetto was established in the town and Asher's family was ordered to move there. The Germans carried out a number of aktionen in the ghetto; in one of these, Shmuel and Berl were deported.
In August 1942, the ghetto was liquidated and the remaining Jews were sent to the Jewish cemetery where they were held for two days without food or water. The Jews were forced to walk between two rows of German soldiers who took turns beating them. Fourteen-year-old Asher was sent to forced labor in the Łódź ghetto and Jocheved and Gabriel were deported to Chełmno where they were murdered.
In Łódź, Asher foraged for food in garbage heaps and worked in a factory making straw shoes. He fell ill with typhus but recovered. In August 1944, the Łódź ghetto was liquidated and Asher was deported to Auschwitz.
In January 1945, Asher was sent on a death march. He also survived the Mauthausen and Gunskirchen camps. After liberation, he reached Italy with the assistance of the Jewish Brigade.
In November 1945, Asher immigrated to Israel. He lives with his wife, Chaya Aud and they have three children and 10 grandchildren.
Asher was also recently a torchlighter on the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day ceremony in May 2014. See and hear Asher telling his story.
Yad Vashem's International School for Holocaust Studies grants the prestigious prize in five categories: the Lifetime Achievement Award, Children's Holocaust Literature, Outstanding Matriculation Papers on the Holocaust, Outstanding Educational Curricula, and Outstanding Educational Curricula on French Jewry during the Holocaust.
The awards are generously supported by the Najmann Family, Sandra Brand in memory of her son, Bruno Brand, who perished in the Holocaust, the Luba and Mark Uveeler Foundation, the Foundation pour la Memoire de la Shoah and the Aloumim Association.