Holocaust survivor celebrates those who helped

HOUSTON It is a story of survival and of spirit, and it's about one man wishing to honor those who helped Jews from across Europe survive the holocaust.

Music is something that comes naturally now for Al Marks, 77.

Al did not know how to play in early 1944 when he and his parents were rounded up in their native Hungary, stuffed into a cattle car like this and delivered by the Nazis to Auschwitz. He was just 13.

"We were numb. We really didn't know what was happening to us," said Al.

Upon arrival at Auschwitz, his parents were sent one way and he was sent another. He never saw them again. They were among the six million Jews exterminated in the holocaust.

"Let me tell you, it happened so fast, the separation, that I didn't have a chance to even kiss my parents goodbye. I remember that like yesterday," said Al.

For almost a year, the hands which now so eloquently make music, were then forced to build roads and Nazi weapons. Freedom came finally in May of 1944 when the camp he'd been transferred to was liberated.

On the advice of a cousin, he arrived in Houston in January of 1948 and made this home. He learned piano though the Houston Conservancy of Music. He went on to have three children, one of whom is daughter Karen Marks.

Karen grew up to be an accomplished piano player as well and the pair will play side by side in a concert at the Holocaust Museum Houston as a celebration of sorts.

"I think of it as a triumph over a tragic situation with dad having such a traumatic childhood," said Karen.

They say they are celebrating not just survival, but those who helped so many Jews survive. Muslims, Albanians, so many others who helped at great risk to themselves.

"There were so many and so seldom do we have a chance to talk about them and salute them," said Karen.

There will be two concerts here at the Holocaust Museum Houston. One is Wednesday, September 2, and one on September 13. For times and ticket information, you can visit the Holocaust Museum Houston web site here. Proceeds will go to the museum.

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