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Holocaust survivor speaks in Front Royal

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Holocaust survivor Marcel Drimer speaks Tuesday night at the Warren County Community Center. Rich Cooley/Daily

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Holocaust survivor Marcel Drimer speaks Tuesday night at the Warren County Community Center. Rich Cooley/Daily

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Robert Conway, of Front Royal, listens as Holocaust survivor Marcel Drimer speaks Tuesday night at the Warren County Community Center. Rich Cooley/Daily

By Kim Walter -- kwalter@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- Modern day citizens have their share of troubles, but after listening to Marcel Drimer's childhood stories, one would find that these trying times are nothing that can't be handled.

"We thought about giving up ... but we didn't," said Drimer, while speaking at the Warren County Community Center Tuesday night about his experience growing up through, and surviving, the Holocaust.

Drimer was the inaugural speaker for the Front Royal-Warren County John Marshall Speaker Series, sponsored by area businesses. Just last week, Drimer met with President Obama along with other survivors for Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Born in 1934, Drimer was only 5 when Germany invaded Poland and his hometown of Drohobycz fell to Soviet control in 1939. The town was small, with a population of about 10,000, he said.

"You had some well-educated Jews who were doctors and lawyers, but then you had others who scraped by to make a living," Drimer said.

It wasn't until July 1, 1941, that the Germans infiltrated the town and began putting restrictions on Jews. Drimer said he and his family were only allowed to walk in certain places, and were required to wear arm bands identifying them as Jews.

Drimer described the terror that came with German "aktions" or violent operations against Jewish civilians. During one specific German aktion, his family hid in a wheat field under his mother's beige coat.

"We started hearing Germans screaming, dogs barking, people crying, begging, for their life, and then shots fired, and then it was quiet for 10 or 15 minutes," he said. "And then it would start all over again."

"It was like a symphony of death."

Shortly after, as day turned to dusk, Drimer said he and his mother and sister encountered a German soldier, and they all made eye contact and stopped.

"It was only for a minute, but it felt like an eternity," Drimer said.

The soldier, for what reason Drimer does not know, turned around and walked away.

Drimer also talked about a "tale of two coats," when he, his mother and sister were hiding in an attic for an extended period of time. His father would bring them food when possible, but they went without for several days when his father didn't come back.

"My father eventually bribed his way out of prison with a fur coat," Drimer said, as Jews were not allowed to have such things at the time. When his father returned, he brought a peasant woman who had some provisions. Drimer said his mother was willing to barter with her, and the woman said she wanted Drimer's sister's winter coat in return for some bread.

"And my mother said, 'But that is my child's winter coat,' and the woman said 'It doesn't matter, you will all be dead by winter,'" Drimer said.

Once liberated in August 1944, Drimer had a hard time acclimating to life post-war. He said his muscles were weak, so he had to relearn how to walk.

However, Drimer is thankful to have survived. Only 400 people from his town were able to get through the Holocaust, as was his father, mother, sister and two uncles. He now lives in Burke with his wife, while his son and two grandchildren live elsewhere.

"Out of the 6.5 million people killed, 1.5 million were children," Drimer said, his voice cracking. "Think of what they could have done for this world."

Drimer said he's written about more than 10 separate stories from his war experiences, and has been told he "writes with an accent." He said it is important for him to write and speak, as there are still some individuals who insist the Holocaust never happened.

"I was a witness to what was happening, and by you listening, now you become witnesses," he said. "We must see to it that nothing like this ever happens again."

For more information on Drimer and the stories of other survivors, click here.


Thank you for this story. But our local business community didn't have to go all the way to Burke to find Holocaust survivors.

For instance, there are several people right here in Warren County whose families survived Stalin's extermination of Ukrainians in the forced famines of 1932-33, which killed four million people. Perhaps they can be invited to speak next year.

Hitler killed a total of 13 million, including millions of Christians. Stalin and Mao killed well over a hundred million, and often bragged about it. But the Holocaust is not over. Mr. Drimer is correct: think of what those 1.5 million children could have done, had they been allowed to live.

And yet, over 50 million children have been aborted in the United States in the past 40 years. 140 million women are "missing" in Southeast Asia, according to demographers, because sex-selection abortions are rampant and the victims are always girls.

Lastly, China's government brags that its forced-abortion policy has killed four hundred million since its inception in the 1970s.

"Think of what they could have done for this world," had they been allowed to live.

Amen, Mr. Drimer.

Isopod - I'd love hear more about the folks in our community. We went through the Holocaust Museum to get our speaker because I didn't know how else to find local victims of state sponsored terror locally.

We will have more speakers as the months go by. The John Marshall Speaker Series is sponsored by a changing coalition of Front Royal area business dedicated to continuing a conversation in our community on Traditional Western Values, Individual Rights, Private Property Rights, Economic Freedom, Constitutional Principles and Human Rights.

I think having people persecuted by Mao/Stalin/Hussein/Taliban, etc would be very interesting and right in line with the kind of discussion we're trying to have in the town.



I applaud Mr. Hrbek in this instance for ignoring Isopod's completely off topic rant and attempt to use another's pain and suffering to push a completely different social/political agenda.

Isopod Google up "Godwin's Law", you should feel ashamed to try to use that mans misery for gain.

The attempt to compare the killing of millions of people during WWII to abortion is an insult to the people who suffered the brutality of the holocaust. Of course, you have to consider the source - the radical Front Royal catholics who would rather focus their efforts to overturn abortion, while turning a blind eye to priest abuse of children.

The WWII Holocaust was horrible. Everytime you think that mankind just might learn from history's mistakes along comes some other nut job and does it all over again. I attended the Speach last night. I am reminded of another speaking engagement that took place at Christendom College in 83 or 84. A Fransiscan Brother was a survivor of Auschwitz. A Roman Catholic Polish Monk who went through that horror watched a Roman Catholic Priest step up and give his own life in the starvation bunker to save a jewish man who had a wife and children. That Priest is now St. Maximilian Kolbe. Not all Catholics in Front Royal are Radical. Most of us just want to live our lives and worship as we choose. And there are a vast majority of us Catholics who are furious at the Priest Molestation Scandal You are right about one thing. Abortion and the Holocaust don't belong in the same category. Sorry I usually don't write so much. But so much to repond too!

My people hail from the same region of Mr. Drimer, near L'viv Ukraine. That whole region fought factional wars from medieval days until the end of Stalin's purges of "German sympathizers "after WW2. I dare say distant cousins most likely took part in one horror or another. We can thank God that the USA was the destination of my grandfather and grandmother in the early 1900s. We're all blessed that the last, and most deadly war fought on our soil was 150 years ago (remember a place called Andersonville GA?). Humanity is capable of whatever its imagination can dream up - God help us.

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