Marion Blumenthal Lazan, a longtime Hewlett resident, has received the highest honor given by the German government, for her courageous retelling of her experience living through the Holocaust.
“We’re running out of time, this is the last generation that’s going to hear this firsthand, but the questions answered and the lessons learned is what’s so important,” Lazan said.
David Gill, the consul general of Germany, welcomed Lazan, 89, and about 20 family members and friends into his Manhatan apartment on Jan. 21, where he presented her with the award, given to individuals for services to the nation.
“By sharing your experience as an eyewitness and survivor of the Holocaust, you help to preserve the remembrance for further generations and contribute to the fight against anti-Semitism and to keeping the demand of ‘Never Again’ alive,” Gill wrote in the letter informing Lazan of the award.
Lazan was among those selected for the award by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, to salute achievements in entrepreneurial, global, philanthropic, religious, scientific and social work.
During the ceremony, Gill recounted Lazan’s story from birth to early childhood in her hometown of, Hoya, Germany, and her family’s desire to go to America after six-and-a-half years in refugee camps in the Netherlands, concentration camps in Germany, and transit camps after liberation in 1945. He spoke of her strength and “unwavering belief in humanity.” He said that her advocacy and education after the Shoah paved the way for a compassionate future.
“It is truly impressive and cannot be praised enough, how much time and effort Marion Blumenthal Lazan devotes to public speaking, addressing students at various levels of education worldwide, as well as adult audiences in religious institutions and civic organizations,” Gill said.
Michael Lazan, Marion’s son, discussed the success of her book, “Four Perfect Pebbles,” which sold 800,000 copies in five languages, her global presentations and her tireless efforts in promoting Holocaust education.
“In a time marred by a disturbing rise in antisemitism and alarming ignorance about the Holocaust, this honor is particularly significant,” Michael said. “It signifies a commitment by the German government to combating historical ignorance and fostering a world where tolerance prevails.”
Susan Weinberg, Marion’s daughter, shared a news release about the event that noted the added significance of the award during a resurgence of antisemitism.
“Marion Blumenthal Lazan, at the age of 89, remains undeterred in her mission to combat misinformation and educate people about the Holocaust,” Weinberg wrote. “The global rise in anti-Semitism and the unsettling survey results serve as a stark reminder of the critical importance of her tireless efforts.”
“It was an extraordinary — beyond extraordinary — experience,” Lazan said of the award ceremony. “I didn’t know what to expect, but it was quite elaborate.”
Lazan said she plans to continue sharing her story and speaking with people of all ages, all around the world.
“Be kind and good and respectful towards one and other, I keep saying that that’s the basis for peace, such a simple, simple message and so difficult to achieve,” Lazan said.