83988. To many, this is just a number. But to Debbi Sugarman, a child of a Holocaust survivor, this number has great significance.
Her father survived two of the largest concentration camps, Auschwitz and Auschwitz II, also called Birkenau, where he was tattooed and given a uniform with an identifying number: 83988.
Sugarman told her father’s story to students and community members at the Alpha Epsilon Pi Eta chapter house Thursday. The Jewish fraternity hosted a “Walk to Remember” for Holocaust Remembrance Day, which began Wednesday evening and ended on Thursday.
The attendees, all wearing black, met at the fraternity house where Sugarman spoke, and continued their remembrance by walking to the front of Thompson Library where they held a vigil.
Several student organizations attended the event including the College Democrats, College Republicans, members of Alpha Epsilon Pi and the Armenian Student Association.
Tatevik Broutian, treasurer of the Armenian Student Association and a graduate student in biooncology, said it was important for her organization to be there to support those affected by the Holocaust, as they remember the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.
“History can teach us lessons about what we shouldn’t do,” Broutian said. “ I think it’s important for people to know their history and to never forget.”
Jordan Hoffman, organizer of the event, member of Alpha Epsilon Pi, and a second-year in finance, said that just his chapter was a part of the event last year, but this year, the whole community was invited. He said several of his fraternity brothers’ grandparents were Holocaust survivors, including three of his own.
According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website, six million Jewish people were killed in the Holocaust.
However, Jewish people were not the only population targeted. It is estimated that there were a total of 11 million people killed, including disabled people, Polish and Russian Slavic people, as well as political and ideological groups such as: communists, socialists, Jehovah’s Witnesses and homosexuals, according to the website.
Matthew Frankel, a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi and a fourth-year in environmental engineering, said he was most excited about seeing the physical presence of the community at the event. He said he wanted people to be “pissed off in a good way” about the Holocaust.
“A lot of really terrible things happened, and we should be angry and upset that they did happen, and work towards bettering our own society to ensure that things like this don’t happen again,” Frankel said.
Correction: April 19, 2105
An earlier version of this article misstated the host fraternity’s name as “Alpha Epsilon Phi.” In fact, it is “Alpha Epsilon Pi.”