SAN ANTONIO – One of the area’s last living Holocaust survivors is sharing her story – hoping the younger generation will understand the consequences of bullying.
Rose Sherman Williams survived unspeakable atrocities.
"I didn't even tell my children my story,” Williams told News 4.
And after years of silence, she’s finally speaking out.
"Very, very difficult because I blacked it out for many years,” Williams said.
When she was just a little girl – about the same age as the middle school students visiting the Jewish Community Center – Nazi Germany troops invaded her small polish town.
Williams' family was separated and taken to Nazi camps.
"Those [shower] heads would come out,” she told the school group. “Instead of water, gas. And once the people were gassed they would put them into the crematorium."
After months of being treated like animals, one day her grandmother tried to stop a Nazi soldier from killing children.
"The next thing I heard was a shot and he had shot my grandmother,” Williams said. “It took me many, many years to be able to block out that picture from my mind. Thinking how many people have stepped on the body of my grandmother."
Sooner after, she was told to pack up again – this time, for Auschwitz.
"They gave us a number which I still carry on my hand, tattooed: "A15049," Williams said while holding up her arm so students could see the tattoo. “That was the name I had to answer to and God forbid if I didn't hear my name called. You cannot imagine the beating I would get."
So much suffering, and Rose said she wanted to die: she volunteered to go to the concentration camp’s gas chamber.
But a Nazi doctor intervened. For years, Williams wondered why.
"I can't imagine what it was [like] to be there,” Frank Tejeda Academy eighth-grader Lance Costilla said.
Through the tears, he got the message.
"I see it a lot. Bullying,” Costilla said. “And it's wrong. She teaches us that it's bad and we should treat people right and respectfully."
Williams doesn’t want sympathy, doesn’t wants thanks – just a promise.
"To be good to one another,” she explained. “Not to let the other kids bully them."
And if that’s her legacy, she said, then God spared her from the Holocaust for a reason.