PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Dozens of high school students gathered at St. Joseph’s University for the 41st Annual Youth Symposium on the Holocaust.

Simone Gorko helped organize the event, a program of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, that hosted high school students from across the Delaware Valley.

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“It’s a unique opportunity for them to actually meet a survivor, and to get to ask questions,” Gorko said. “To hear their story and see that these are real people.”

Dr. John Spitzer shared his story as a child trying to survive the Holocaust in Hungary.

“I was very lucky,” Spitzer said. “All my family including mother grandmother, cousins etc. were deported and exterminated in Auschwitz.”


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Peter Stern, a German-born Holocaust survivor, shared his experiences with students.

“I went through various concentration camps,” Stern said. “If one thinks of it in terms of a movie, it was a terrible horror adventure story.”

Stern says he hopes through his message, students are able to learn from the past.

“I try to translate that into what their lives might be like,” he explained.

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During the symposium, teachers also received a lesson on how teach about the Holocaust.