Holocaust survivor Dr. Zev Harel, Ph.D. shares his experiences with students

Holocaust survivor and Professor Emeritus at Cleveland State University, Dr. Zev Harel, Ph.D., shared his experiences as a survivor on Thursday, March 24 at Wake Forest Law School.

Dr. Zev Harel is a survivor of Auschwitz, Mauthausen and Ebensee concentration camps. He was liberated by the U.S. Army’s 3rd Cavalry at the age of 15. During his recovery at the Bergen Belsen Displaced Persons Camp, he assisted with the illegal immigration activities (Bricha) of the Palestine Jewish Brigade and facilitated displaced Jewish Holocaust survivors to get into Palestine.In Palestine, at the age of 16, Dr. Harel volunteered to serve with the Hagana, the largest of the underground Jewish defense forces. In 1947, he joined the Harel Brigade of the Palmach, the elite Jewish defense force at the time.Though the United Nations approved the official establishment of Israel in 1948, a war between Israel and six Arab nations began on May 14, 1948. Dr. Harel fought in Israel’s War of Independence and in the 1956 Sinai Campaign against Egypt. He served in the military reserves as an officer with Israel’s 9th┬áBrigade Recognizance Unit until 1965.

“He moved several members of the audience to tears when he recounted the various ways in which strangers’ simple acts of courage and compassion had enabled him to survive”, said Professor Abigail Perdue. “He recounted how a young girl had snuck him food while he was imprisoned and told of a kapo who warned Dr. Harel to lie about his age so that he would not immediately be send to the gas chamber.”

He implored the students to “remember” and “honor” Holocaust survivors, the World War Two veterans who liberated them and all those who risked their lives to oppose the Nazis. His final message urged students to “aspire to do right” and use their legal knowledge to make a positive impact in the world.

Harel is a graduate of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel, and received graduate degrees from the University of Michigan (his MSW), and Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri (his Ph.D). He is Professor Emeritus of the School of Social Work at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Harel has been a public speaker about the Holocaust for the past 40 years as he honors the memories and legacies of the Holocaust. He has been engaged in speaking about these topics to high school students, college students, and educators at local, state and national levels. Harel has also spoken at Holocaust Teacher Workshops sponsored by the North Carolina Council on the Holocaust and at Holocaust Remembrance events in North Carolina. Among his numerous awards, he was a recipient of the Ellie Wiesel Award of Honor.

Professor Perdue arranged the talk in connection with her new Diversity and Discrimination course.