Holocaust Survivor, Dr. Roger Loria, Visits Campus for Holocaust Remembrance Week Shlomo Honig '18
The sound of respect and gratitude, in the form of applause, filled the room following Dr. Roger Loria's presentation. His account of what he experienced during and after the Holocaust was particularly moving, shedding light on the ever-present danger of discriminating against others. Hated from the day he was born because of a religion he did not yet even know, Dr. Loria did not have a childhood to which he seeks to return; instead, it was memorable in a very different way.
Dr. Loria speaks to students, faculty, and community members in the Hillel Multipurpose Room. Photo credit: Patrick Hinely
He learned quickly that placing trust in others-namely his mother and all those who helped them-was of paramount importance, though never giving up when in the face of adversity was of even greater value. As is the case with many survivors, for all of the times that he and his family were torn apart, arrested, or found themselves knocking at death's door, what drove them to escape was hope for a better tomorrow-hope that others like them would not be betrayed and slaughtered by fellow human beings. But in his experiences, there was a silver lining: his family's neighbors, Madame et Monsieur Dujardin, scrambled to his parents' apartment during a pogrom and rescued family portraits and other valuables. After the war concluded, these belongings were returned to Dr. Loria. These pictures of his family are truly irreplaceable because they represent the people with whom he can never be reunited again.
In addition to speaking at W&L Hillel, Dr. Loria also shared his story with the 8th grade class at Lylburn Downing Middle School. Organized by teacher Eric Wilson, this talk was also attended by Lexington Mayor Mimi Elrod as well as Lexington Schools Superintendent Dan Lyons and School Board Chair Leslie Straughan. Photo credit: Claudia Schwab..
The potential for others to serve as active bystanders, even in the midst of potentially tyrannical regimes, in the way that Madame et Monsieur Dujardin did, played a crucial role in Dr. Loria's willingness to reopen, for all of us, the emotional scars that are forever etched into his memories. By doing so, he hopes to ensure that those who know of the atrocities of the Holocaust will carry the torch and ensure that a similar conflagration never rises again from the embers of hatred.
Dr. Loria is on the Board of Trustees of the Richmond Holocaust Museum and is a professor of microbiology, immunology, pathology and emergency medicine at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine.