Guest Speaker Provides a Lesson on Overcoming Adversity
Jan 20, 2014
Students, staff, and visitors at the Florence Campus received an inspiring lesson in overcoming adversity, and learned first-hand about the resiliency of the human spirit, when Werner Coppel, a speaker from the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education, recently shared his personal experiences as a Holocaust survivor.
In his presentation, Mr. Coppel, who is 88 years old, described the horrendous conditions that he endured as a prisoner in the Auschwitz concentration camp. He also recounted his escape during a Death March when he instinctively ran into the woods and eventually made it behind Russian lines to freedom. Tragically, his mother, father, and brother were killed during the Holocaust.
Mr. Coppel came to the United States with his wife and baby in 1949, and settled in the Cincinnati area. Although the tattoo that he received as an identification number at Auschwitz has faded with time and is no longer visible, the persecution that he experienced as a Jew living in Nazi Germany will impact his life forever.
“I hoped that I had left hate and prejudice on the blood-soaked earth of Germany, but hate and prejudice is with us in this country,” said Mr. Coppel. “My goal at all times… is to stand up to hate and prejudice, even if it doesn’t affect you.” He encouraged the audience to do the same.
Medical assisting student Kristen Robertson was glad that she had the opportunity to hear Mr. Coppel speak. “He is a very interesting man. He’s been through a lot, and he’s handled it very, very well,” she said. “I’m glad American National University was able to get him to talk to us about thatstrong period of time in history.”
Anissa Hersi, a medical assisting student who is a native of Somalia, also found Mr. Coppel’s visit very inspiring. “It was an amazing day,” said Anissa. “It was emotional and he was really interesting. I am glad [to have had the chance] to be with him today.”
Holocaust survivor, Werner Coppel, speaks to students, staff, and visitors at the Florence Campus.