(Photo: Allison Upchurch)
By: Allison Upchurch, Staff Reporter
You know things might get a little heavy when your ticket to an event reads “Make Your Visit Count.”
Last Monday, the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities and the Chabad of Northwest Metro Denver held a presentation with Rabbi Nissen Mangel, a Holocaust survivor who recounted his time at the infamous concentration camp of Auschwitz.
At only 10 years old, Mangel and his family were sent to Auschwitz where Mangel had two significant encounters with Dr. Josef Mengele, nicknamed the “Angel of Death” because of how the doctor was known for inhumane experiments and for sending millions of Jews to the gas chambers.
“I was privileged in that he spared me” Mangel said and recounted how his father first tried to hide him as the group of Jews were being sorted, but Dr. Mengele noticed the little boy and took him for an 11-year-old instead of 10 and sent young Mangel to work, making rope from old strips of cloth.
The second encounter came when Mangel had been sent to the camp’s clinic and been diagnosed with scarlet fever. Dr. Mengele wanted to take the boy to perform an experiment on him, but Mangel threw himself up in protest and said, “Experiment on monkeys but not on me!”
Throughout the presentation, Mangel spoke very firmly of his faith and reiterated, “I am convinced without God, I would not be here to speak with you today.” Comparing his experience in Auschwitz like the biblical stories of Daniel being thrown into the lion’s den or
Abraham being thrown into a furnace, he has experienced and lived through Dr. Mengele’s furnace while a million other children like him did not.
At the conclusion of his presentation, Mangel was joined by two members of the community, Maureen and Stuart Phillips, as he wrote down the first inscriptions of a new Torah to be dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust.
This memorial Torah, initiated by the Phillips, will be completely handwritten in Hebrew calligraphy and upon its completion in September 2018 will be the first Holocaust memorial in northwest metro Denver.