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Dr. Aron Wajskol

1924 - 2017
Dr. Aron Wajskol Obituary
(News story) Dr. Aron Wajskol, a physician who in retirement spoke publicly on the horrors of the Holocaust, which he survived and to which he lost most of his family, died Wednesday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, South Detroit Avenue. He was 92.

He had been in declining health for several years, his son, Eliot, said.

Dr. Wajskol, a surgeon in his native Poland, retired in 1994 from the former Medical College of Ohio and became an associate professor emeritus of anesthesiology. He wrote the chapter on the first 25 years of the anesthesiology department for the 2011 book, A Community of Scholars - Recollections of the Early Years of the Medical College of Ohio.

"For all he went through, he was the most focused, even-keeled, positive, forward-looking person," his son said.

He was born Nov. 21, 1924, in Lodz, Poland, to Rachel and Elias Wajskol. Decades later, he began to speak of his childhood - and thereby the lives of millions - to students and at Holocaust remembrance events. His was the last voice heard in the documentary released in 2012, Bearing Witness: The Voices of Our Survivors.

"There was an incredible empathy and an incredible understanding," said Heather Elliott-Famularo, the film's director. "He had an incredible sense of the importance of learning from history."

After the German occupation of Poland, the Jewish families of Lodz were forced from their homes and into the town's ghetto, which had little running water and no sewers. People died of starvation - it was "dying in slow motion," Dr. Wajskol told The Blade in 2010. His own father succumbed to tuberculosis.

Dr. Wajskol was sent to a forced-labor camp. His mother died at Auschwitz, the largest of the Nazi death camps.

He and other prisoners were moved to other camps ahead of advancing Allied troops, eventually forced at gunpoint by German forces to walk through snow and cold.

"It was a bona fide death march," Dr. Wajskol told The Blade in 2009. "But I escaped the march with friends I made in Buchenwald."

The question was not whether to share his story, but how to make people understand.

"It's like describing being on the moon," Dr. Wajskol told The Blade. "Hearing about the facts and truly understanding the facts are different things."

Yet he believed it imperative to speak out.

"It is not a part of Jewish history. It's world history - and that's an important distinction," Dr. Wajskol said in 2011. "It's necessary to remind people what happened. People forget, or they don't know about it."

At the 50th anniversary in 1995 of the liberation of Auschwitz, Dr. Wajskol said: "If we deny the possibility that things like this can happen, we lose our vigilance and vigilance is the most important thing."

After the war, he settled in Szczecin, Poland, and received his medical training in the former Soviet Union. He became a physician in Poland, but a campaign of anti-Semitism in the late 1960s forced the family to flee, his son said. They came to Toledo eventually through the help of a relative of his wife.

"For everything he went through, he was not a bitter man," his son said. "There was so much hatred and cruelty around him. He lived his life in service of others. He saved lives."

Surviving are his wife, Anastazja, whom he married Nov. 5, 1965; son, Eliot, and two grandchildren.

Funeral services will be at noon Friday in Beth Shalom Cemetery, Oregon. Guests will be received in the family's West Toledo home from 2-4 p.m. Sunday. Arrangements are by the Robert H. Wick/?Wisniewski Funeral Home.

The family suggests tributes to Hospice of Northwest Ohio or to Congregation B'nai Israel, of which he was a member.

This is a news story by Mark Zaborney. Contact him at:[email protected] or 419-724-6182.
Published in The Blade on Sept. 14, 2017
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