Testimony of Mr. Gerd KLESTADT, Bergen-Belsen camp survivor

After his testimony on January 27, 2021, Mr. Gerd KLESTADT, survivor of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, met up with the EHTL school community on May 8, 2024 to recount his painful past and advocate “never again” at a time when painful conflicts are once again marking the history of humanity.

Born on December 23, 1932, Gerd KLESTADT’s youth was marked by Nazi persecution and 25 painful months in various camps, including 14 months and 11 days in Bergen-Belsen. Under the title “Le devoir de ma mémoire”, Mr. KLESTADT not only recounts his own experiences, but above all asks whether we have learned the lessons of this tragic episode in history. Far from feeling sorry for himself, he calls on students to mobilize against all types of violence and discrimination… weaving a disturbing link between his experiences in the Second World War and the major migratory and ethnic conflicts of our time.

KLESTADT made sure to warn young high school students about the dangers of intolerance, racial hatred and ignorance. It has raised awareness and encouraged them to abolish clichés, stereotypes and violence towards others, thereby contributing to greater social cohesion.

At the end of his testimony, Gerd KLESTADT handed out a multicolored marble to all the students and teachers, as he has already done for thousands of others who have had the privilege of listening to his personal story. For him, this round, multicolored bead represents the world with its cultural, ethnic and religious diversity, which must be preserved in mutual respect. These marbles thus become a metaphor for “never again”, materializing the echoes of Mr. KLESTADT’s testimony for a better world.

Finally, as if to definitively prove his revenge on the past, Mr. KLESTADT showed a photo with his wife, children and grandchildren… who will make his memory resonate far beyond the limits that time imposes on us.

Gerd has left an indelible mark, and his testimony is an essential message of humanity for our students, who will be shaping the world of tomorrow, and whose human values will guarantee its continuity (A.H.).


Share This