TCU Daily Skiff Tuesday, April 20, 2004
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‘You never forget ...’
Speaker shares personal Holocaust experience

A Holocaust Remembrance speaker stressed the importance of passing on his memories to future generations.

By Ferrell Fields
Staff Reporter

The Rev. Wilson Canafax shared his emotional journey of liberating Nazi concentration camps Monday night to an audience of friends, family and students.

Canafax said unless people feel or experience what the Holocaust was like with their whole being, people down the line will let it drift off. His speech was sponsored by Programming Council and TCU Hillel, a Jewish student organization.

After graduating from Southern Methodist University’s seminary school, Canafax joined the chaplains core group through the Methodist church. He was then shipped to Europe to be part of an engineer combat group. Canafax was one of many chaplains sent overseas as part of the liberation.

“I heard of concentration camps but wanted to see them out of curiosity because we did not know what was going on,” said Canafax, who lives in Hurst and is the associate minister at First United Methodist Church of Hurst.

Canafax entered Buchenwald days after the liberation and still has a vivid depiction of what he saw and heard.

He said he saw the pegs that Nazis would tie nooses around to hang prisoners in the camps. He also saw the ovens with the remains of prisoners still inside.

“You never forget the things you see,” Canafax said. “Especially the fearful and hopeless expressions of all the people in the concentration camp.”

Canafax, along with other chaplains of varying faiths, brought people away from the concentration camp to a worship service.

“It was the first time in years for most of the people to worship,” Canafax said.
He described the emotional experience of these people as they cried and shouted for joy.

Canafax stressed the importance of remembering the Holocaust by passing on experiences to upcoming generations.

“Students have to develop a feeling for what happened during the Holocaust,” Canafax said. “Academics and textbooks are OK, but you have to feel it in order to understand it.”
It was not until recently that Canafax could talk about his experience in the concentration camps.

“It is not easy to relive my experience, but it gives me great joy to be able to express it so I can pass it on to future generations,” Canafax said.

Raveen Bhasin/Staff Photographer
The Rev. Wilson Canafax speaks Monday night in the Student Center as a part of Holocaust Victims Memorial Week. Canafax was a chaplain with the U.S. Army in Buchenwald during World War II.
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