Holocaust Survivor Visits Pontiff

Tells L’Osservatore Romano of Childhood Escape

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 25, 2009 (Zenit.org).- An 84-year-old Jewish woman who survived the Holocaust presented Benedict XVI with her autobiography today.

Cacilie Peiser met with the Pontiff after the general audience held in Paul VI Hall. She was accompanied by Salesian Father Norbert Hofmann, secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations With the Jews.

In an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, Peiser told some of her story: «After the ‘night of broken glass’ in 1938, at the age of 13, I was obliged to flee with my younger sister Jutta and other children to Holland.»
After the liberation of the Low Countries and at the end of World War II, Peiser dedicated herself to the care of former prisoners who in the Nazi extermination camps contracted tuberculosis. Only then was she able to confirm that her mother and younger brother had been deported and killed in a concentration camp (her father had died earlier). Her elder sister Hannah was saved by seeking refuge in Haifa.
«I also went to Palestine in 1946, where I struggled for peaceful coexistence between men of different cultures and religions. In 1957 I returned to Germany to work with handicapped children,» she explained.
Peiser is also the founder and honorary president of the Child Survivors Deutschland Association, for those children who survived the Shoah and who still bear on their skin and in their psyche the signs of the traumatic experiences of those years.

More visitors

L’Osservatore Romano also reported on other special guests at today’s audience.

Some 300 faithful and 10 bishops from Japan were present to thank the Pope for the Nov. 24, 2008, beatification of 188 Japanese martyrs.
For this one-year anniversary, they brought a reliquary with remains of Jesuit Father Peter Kibe and his companions, killed at the beginning of the 17th century for their fidelity to Christ and the Catholic Church.
From Lebanon came personnel from the Tele Lumiere Noursat, a broadcasting station which hopes to establish itself on the outskirts of Beirut to broadcast a message of peace to the country and to the whole of the Middle East. They have the support of Eastern patriarchs, as well as Catholics and non-Catholics.
The Pope also greeted a group of volunteers from the Associazione insieme fratelli indios of Perugia, Italy, who are dedicated to the assistance and promotion of native peoples of the Amazon.

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