InMedicine (OUWB's Magazine)

‘Really inspiring’
Student organizations from OUWB co-sponsor lecture from Holocaust survivor

An image of Fred Lessing
Fred Lessing talks about how he managed to successfully evade Nazi capture during World War II. (Photo by Andrew Dietderich)

One could hear a pin drop when Holocaust survivor Fred Lessing visited OUWB to recall and share what it was like to be a child who successfully avoided Nazi capture.

Lessing talked about everything from being separated as a 6-year-old from his “very loving family” to being liberated by the Canadian Army — a moment that, even as he recalled it in 2022, brought tears to his eyes.

More than 50 people attended the event hosted at O’Dowd Hall by two OUWB student organizations, Jewish Medical Student Association and Biomedical Ethics.

Lessing, a retired psychotherapist, previously had spoken to OUWB students via a class on trauma taught by Changiz Mohiyeddini, Ph.D., professor, Department of Foundational Medical Studies.

Students from the organizations felt more people would benefit from hearing Lessing’s stories, he said.

“One of the darkest episodes in medical science is what happened during the Holocaust,” said Mohiyeddini. “I hope (hearing Lessing speak) was very impactful for our students and keeps them thinking critically about their actions and responsibilities as future physicians.”

Rising M3 Nick Ludka, past-president of Biomedical Ethics, said that the organization co-sponsored the event because “From a bioethics standpoint, there’s a lot to be learned from the Holocaust.”

“You can’t find a better example of the autonomy just being completely stripped from mass populations and things being imposed against their will,” he said.

(Only partial stories are posted here with hopes to provide a brief overview and introduction to my most recent work. The full version of this story may be found on the OUWB InMedicine site here.)

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