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Holocaust Survivor Returns to Metro

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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Celina Karp Biniaz first came to Des Moines in 1947, shortly after World War II. On Monday, she returned to the area to tell students about her long journey before she came to Iowa. 

“Please welcome to Valley High school, our distinguished guest, Ms. Celina Biniaz,” said David Maxwell, Valley High School Associate Principal.

Most of the students at Valley High School did not know who Biniaz is, and they were all still a few years away from being born when Steven Spielberg made a movie about her life.

 “Every survival is unique,” said Biniaz, a Holocaust survivor. “My uniqueness was that I was on Schindler’s List.” 

"Celina is alive today, at age 85, because of the actions of Oskar Schindler, the Czech businessman memorialized in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 film Schindler’s List. She is the youngest of the roughly 1,200 Jews Schindler rescued."

Biniaz is one of the last left from that list, and on Monday afternoon she shared her story--one filled with life lessons that can be applied to any student in the audience.

“The different struggles in life, I can still make it through and continue with everything going on, I can push through it,” said Eisha Tollson, a junior at Valley.

Biniaz brought along important artifacts from her journey, like a pair of scissors she recieved in Auschwitz and a cup her mother used at Schindler’s factory. Biniaz told a heroic story that seems almost too impossible to be true.  

“I find it very interesting to hear her story and how much hate and drama was back then. It’s amazing that she is still here today,” said Kade Kopple, a Valley High School sophomore.

Biniaz only spoke for about 45 minutes, but she left these students with two important lessons: use empathy as a tool, and try to let go of hate.

“Do not hate. Be accepting of diversity. Hatred is very corrosive. It only hurts you, it doesn’t hurt the person you are hating," said Biniaz. 

Biniaz will make one more stop in the metro before she returns to her home in California. She will speak at her alma mater, North High school in Des Moines, on Wednesday.

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