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HOLLAND, OH (Toledo News Now) -
A Holocaust survivor from Holland, OH is about to step back in time.
Rolf Hess is heading to a special ceremony at the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, this weekend for its 20th anniversary. The museum will be closed for survivors and World War II vets.
"It's just a meaningful – probably a very emotional thing for me," Hess said.
Hess was born in Germany in 1934. By the time he was four, the Nazi regime took him and his family to an internment camp, and then a concentration camp.
With the help of the Quakers, Hess says he got out of the camp, but his parents did not.
"I did not really realize until about two or three years ago that I really did find out exactly what had happened to my parents," he said.
Hess's parents ended up in Auschwitz, victims of the Holocaust. Hess eventually made it to a French orphanage, and later Ohio, where at the age of seven he started his new life with his great-uncle.
Growing up, Hess says the Holocaust was never really talked about.
"It's something that was always in my mind," he said. "I knew I was part of it, but I did not want to address it…because it was just too painful."
It took him decades to finally talk about his ordeal, but now Hess says he's ready to tell his story, to make sure everyone remembers. He says it's the obligation of survivors to tell their stories in such a way that it impacts future generations, so they will remember and pass on the message.
"I just hope that it never happens again, and I will do everything I can to make sure it never happens again," he said.