The Cincinnati Area made an exciting change…. they moved to the place it all started for many Jews migrating to the United States of American. The Center for Holocaust-Humanity Museum moved to the Cincinnati Train Station Museum.
One Cincinnati resident remembers the moment he departed the train and stepped onto the platform of the train station in Cincinnati after he escaped the horrors of being a Jew during World War II.
Konrad Ryder is one of the youngest Holocaust survivors in the State of Ohio. He had a great part of the moving of the museum to this particular location and is proud that it all worked out that their museum could be placed in the basement of this great historic museum.
“You are the last generation to hear these stories first-hand. Many survivors have passed away. There are not many of us left,” he said.
During a visit to the museum, Ryder told his story to everyone in the “Winds of Change Theater” after a short presentation and film of other survivors of Cincinnati.
Ryder and his family lived in Belgium and had a normal and safe life. Without notice, Germany began gaining power. Hitler became chancelor and the Nazi’s violence erupted- no one could imagine the strength Hitler’s Army had – and bystanders didn’t say anything. They kept to themselves.
As the days wore on, bombing occurred, Jews were forced to escape their homes and hide in shelters. But, not everyone was fortunate enough to stay hidden for long. Many families were forced into ghettos, concentration camps and other horrible situations.
Between 1933 to 1935, six million jews were murdered.
“When you leave this room, you will see what we saw a long time ago,” he said. “It was humanity at its worse.”
The camp Ryder was forced into was a work camp and out of the 1500 Jews, only 300 survived. But, he wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for his mother. She was strong in herbal medicine and kept him from getting too sick or dying. She didn’t only help her son, she helped others as well, using a cherry tree that was on the camps property.
He lived years on nothing but bread, watered down coffee, weak soup, and rotten potatos – if they were lucky. Even though adults were starving, they would share food with ophaned children and the sick.
Ryder was in the work camp with his mother, step-father and some other family members. “The winter months were so cold. The officers would come every morning to collect the dead. They threw the bodies in a barn and because of ground was frozen, they piled them up on top of eachother.”
“I remember once, the SS Soldiers came into the camp and brought chocolates. We were so excited. We took them to my mom to show her. She threw them away. Because, of course, it might have been poisioned.”
In 1945- they were free to go. But, too where? Home wasn’t an option. No one wanted us. So, we walked our way to a refuge camp- many of them were not strong enough and did not make it.
“I arrived in Cincinnati in 1960’s. It wasn’t any train station- for the Jews – it was a doorway to a new life,” he said. “You can’t imagine how exciting it was to see the Statute of Liberty.” He came to America with only $2 in his pocket.
When Ryder arrived to the States and began a citizen, he was drafted into the Army. Guess where he was sent? Germany! It was the last place he wanted to go, but said that he found that not all Germans were evil and has made some long-lasting friendships.
Visit the museum and see if you can caught the attention of Ryder walking around.
Center for Holocaust-Humanity
3101 Clifton Ave.
Cincinnati, OH 45220
Phone: (513) 487-3055