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Survival by Luck

Jeffrey Mcgovern, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Historian, speaks about the actions that lead to the Holocaust during a Holocaust Day of Remembrance event on Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., May 2, 2014.  The event was hosted by the 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Holocaust Remembrance Committee as part of the nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather R. Redman/Released)

Jeffrey Mcgovern, 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Historian, speaks about the actions that lead to the Holocaust during a Holocaust Day of Remembrance event on Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., May 2, 2014. The event was hosted by the 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Holocaust Remembrance Committee as part of the nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather R. Redman/Released)

Pawel Lichter, a Holocaust survivor, speaks to the Airmen of 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) on his experiences during the Holocaust Day of Remembrance on Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., May 2, 2014.  Lichter joined a group of Holocaust survivors who recount their stories of survival during the German occupation of Europe, in hopes of informing younger generations.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather R. Redman/Released)

Pawel Lichter, a Holocaust survivor, speaks to the Airmen of 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) on his experiences during the Holocaust Day of Remembrance on Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., May 2, 2014. Lichter joined a group of Holocaust survivors who recount their stories of survival during the German occupation of Europe, in hopes of informing younger generations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather R. Redman/Released)

Pawel Lichter, a Holocaust survivor, speaks to the Airmen of 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) on his experiences during the Holocaust Day of Remembrance on Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., May 2, 2014.  Lichter spoke on his life during the German invasion of Poland and his journey through Eastern Europe, Asia, and Central America before settling in Ariz. with his family. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather R. Redman/Released)

Pawel Lichter, a Holocaust survivor, speaks to the Airmen of 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) on his experiences during the Holocaust Day of Remembrance on Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., May 2, 2014. Lichter spoke on his life during the German invasion of Poland and his journey through Eastern Europe, Asia, and Central America before settling in Ariz. with his family. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather R. Redman/Released)

The 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Holocaust Remembrance Committee light a candle in remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust during the Holocaust Day of Remembrance on Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., May 2, 2014.  Nine candles were lit representing the nine-million victims of the Holocaust. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather R. Redman/Released)

The 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Holocaust Remembrance Committee light a candle in remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust during the Holocaust Day of Remembrance on Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., May 2, 2014. Nine candles were lit representing the nine-million victims of the Holocaust. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather R. Redman/Released)

The 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Holocaust Remembrance Committee hold candles during a moment of silence in remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust during the Holocaust Day of Remembrance on Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., May 2, 2014.  The United States Congress established the Days of Remembrance as the nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust and created the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as a permanent living memorial to the victims.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather R. Redman/Released)

The 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Holocaust Remembrance Committee hold candles during a moment of silence in remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust during the Holocaust Day of Remembrance on Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., May 2, 2014. The United States Congress established the Days of Remembrance as the nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust and created the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as a permanent living memorial to the victims. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather R. Redman/Released)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AFB, Ariz. -- It started on Sept. 1, 1939, more than 2,000 tanks and over 1,000 planes, broke through Polish defenses along the border and advanced on Warsaw. Within weeks the Polish army was defeated.

Pawel Lichter, a survivor of the German invasion of Poland, shared his life story with the members of 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) during the Holocaust Day of Remembrance May 2, 2014.

The United States Congress established the Days of Remembrance as the nation's annual commemoration of the Holocaust. This year the Holocaust Days of Remembrance goes from April 27-May 4, 2014.

"What inspired me to speak about my experiences and why I joined this group of survivors, was I wanted to let people know what happened," said Lichter.

Lichter recounted his story to the members of 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern). His story includes descriptions about his uncle being tortured and murdered, his family being granted permits allowing them to relocate, narrowly escaping a firing squad, as well as his journey from Poland to Eastern Europe, Asia, Central American, and the U.S.

"Mine is a story about luck, and more luck," said Lichter. "I was able to make it through with most of my family. My grandparents and several of my friends were not so lucky and didn't make it out of Poland."

Events throughout Davis-Monthan AFB were targeted at reminding base members of this moment in history and to honor the memory of the more than 9 million victims who perished in the Holocaust.

When asked about the lessons he passes down to children and grandchildren based on his experiences Lichter responded with, "Respect and live in peace."

This year's theme for the Holocaust Days of Remembrance is Confronting the Holocaust. For more information about this year's official theme and annual commemoration of the Holocaust, please visit http://www.ushmm.org/remember/days-of-remembrance/2014-days-of-remembrance.

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