Holocaust remembered at Eglin

  • Published
  • By Kevin Gaddie
  • Team Eglin Public Affairs

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Eglin observed Holocaust Remembrance Day at a ceremony April 17.

Dale Marks, 96th Test Wing executive director, opened the event.

“Let us honor the memory of the millions who perished by striving to create a world where such atrocities can never happen again,” he said.  “Let us stand together in solidarity against bigotry and hatred, and let the lessons of the holocaust inspire us to build a future founded on compassion, understanding, and respect for all humanity.”

Marks said the importance of these events isn’t only to remember and honor those who were lost, but to also ensure their legacies are never forgotten and to do everything possible to prevent anything resembling the Holocaust again. 

The first guest speaker Bonnie London, talked about her father, Ludwig Rothbine, a Holocaust survivor.

London said her father had tough beginnings even before the Holocaust. 

“My dad was beaten up in school for being a Jew,” she said.

London said her father remembered his family being woken up by a Gestapo agent one early morning in 1938.  He, his brothers and his mother were told to pack enough clothes for three days.

Rothbine and other families were transported by cattle cars to the Germany and Poland border, where they were shot at by both Nazis and Poles.  His family survived the shootings and later separated into different directions for a better chance at survival.  He made his way to an uncle’s house in Nuremberg, Germany.

It was there that her father endured an especially terrifying experience.

In November 1938, Nazi leaders unleashed what was later called Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, against Germany’s Jewish population.  The event was named for the shattered glass that littered the streets after the vandalism and destruction of Jewish-owned businesses, synagogues and homes.

Rothbine eventually made his way to England and then to the United States.  He was drafted into the Army in 1943 and served three years.  After the Army, he became a postal worker, eventually getting his high school diploma and a college degree.

“He made sure my brother and I also graduated from college,” London said.

London said whenever she doubted herself, she was reminded by her father that “Rothbines are late bloomers.  You have to believe in yourself in order to win in life.”

Mark Zeid, a retired Marine and civil service employee, ended the ceremony with a video presentation of notable Jewish and non-Jewish people who fought against Nazi tyranny.

“These people rescued, hid and saved many Jews and their families, and prevented them from being sent to concentration camps and escape Nazi oppression,” Zeid said.  “We honor their bravery, sacrifices and commitment to saving and preserving Jewish lives, while risking their own lives to do it.”