Holo­caust sur­viv­or Dav­id Tuck speaks to stu­dents at Baldi Middle School about his time in Aus­chwitz.

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Never forget: David Tuck recently gave a presentation titled Never Forget. David Tuck: A Story of Holocaust Survival at Baldi Middle School. In 1939, the then-9-year-old boy was sent to a labor camp and eventually Auschwitz. He was freed in 1945. At the time, he was 15 years old and weighed about 78 pounds. MARIA YOUNG / TIMES PHOTO

By TOM WARING, Northeast Times, January 3, 2017

Click for full report

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Chuck Feld­man had a mes­sage for the Baldi Middle School stu­dents about to listen to Holo­caust sur­viv­or Dav­id Tuck.

“You will nev­er for­get the next hour,” he told them.

Feld­man is pres­id­ent of the Holo­caust Aware­ness Mu­seum and Edu­ca­tion Cen­ter, based at Klein­Life, 10100 Jam­is­on Ave.

The mu­seum’s motto is, “Pre­serving His­tory to Learn from the Past.”

Among its mis­sions, the mu­seum em­ploys Holo­caust sur­viv­ors and World War II lib­er­at­ors to tell their stor­ies, and Tuck is con­sidered an es­pe­cially good am­bas­sad­or.

In the last school year, 30 eye­wit­nesses have com­pleted nearly 500 pro­grams and reached more than 43,000 stu­dents. Those num­bers are ex­pec­ted to in­crease with the pas­sage of the state’s Holo­caust and gen­o­cide edu­ca­tion law.

Tuck’s present­a­tions are titled Nev­er For­get. Dav­id Tuck: A Story of Holo­caust Sur­viv­al.

The way Feld­man sees it, Tuck’s ap­pear­ances are as valu­able as if George Wash­ing­ton, Ab­ra­ham Lin­coln and Mar­tin Luth­er King were around today to speak about their ex­per­i­ences.

Feld­man told the young people that they should go home and tell their par­ents and oth­ers what they learned about the Holo­caust, which claimed 6 mil­lion Jew­ish lives, though there are some people who claim the gen­o­cide nev­er took place.

Tuck spoke at three as­sem­blies to more than 1,400 sixth-, sev­enth- and eighth-graders at Baldi, at 8801 Ver­ree Road in Bustleton. He even signed a few auto­graphs and posed for some pic­tures.

Born in Po­land, he lost his mom, Paula, when he was 6 weeks old and was raised by his grand­par­ents, meet­ing his dad for the first time at age 8.

After the 1939 Ger­man in­va­sion of Po­land, the then-9-year-old boy was sent to a labor camp and giv­en the num­ber 176.

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MARIA YOUNG / TIMES PHOTO

“Dave Tuck didn’t ex­ist any­more,” he said.

All-around con­di­tions were bad, but Tuck didn’t dare men­tion when he was sick.

“I was afraid they were go­ing to kill me,” he said.

Even­tu­ally, he was sent to Aus­chwitz and tat­tooed with the num­ber 141631.

“I still have it today,” he said.

An es­tim­ated 1 mil­lion people died at the dozens of Aus­chwitz camps.

“The only way to go free from there was to die,” Tuck said.

Tuck re­calls work­ing hard and eat­ing food out of trash cans while fear­ing for his life at times.

Fi­nally, in 1945, Amer­ic­ans and al­lies lib­er­ated the camps.

At the time he was freed, he was 15 years old and weighed all of 78 pounds.

Later, he spent some time in Italy and Par­is be­fore get­ting mar­ried in 1950 and com­ing to Amer­ica. He be­came a suc­cess­ful busi­ness­man, spe­cific­ally in the in­teri­or dec­or­at­ing field.

He’s lived and worked in Brook­lyn, the Bronx and Bur­l­ing­ton County, New Jer­sey. Today, he lives in Levit­town. He has a daugh­ter, three grand­chil­dren and nine great-grand­chil­dren.

Over the years, he has told his story to more than 10,000 stu­dents. He doesn’t for­give or for­get, but also doesn’t dwell on the ex­per­i­ence.

In his ad­dress and in a ques­tion-and-an­swer ses­sion at Baldi, he urged stu­dents to walk away from bul­lies and to stay in school.

While in the camps, he main­tained a will to live and prayed to God each night to be able to see light the next day.

Tuck re­mem­bers think­ing to him­self, “Dave, don’t give up. You’re go­ing to make it.”

“And I made it,” he said. ••

You can reach Tom Waring at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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