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Chicagoans Remember Holocaust Historian Elie Wiesel

(CBS) – Elie Wiesel's firsthand account of Nazi atrocities gave others the courage to do the same.

CBS 2's Vince Gerasole talked with Chicagoans who were touched by his message.

Fritzie Fritzshall found the courage to tell the story of how, at 13, she survived the Holocaust.

"The only reason I was saved was by somebody risking his life," she says.

Shoved by Nazis off a box car at the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp, a stranger kept telling her and other children to insist they were 15.

"He knew most children under the age would go to the gas chambers," Fritzshall says.

She lied about her age and lived. The rest of her Jewish family did not.

Her courage to speak out can be traced to Nobel Prize-winning author Elie Wiesel. In the mid-1950s, he wrote graphically of his own survival at Auschwitz and encouraged other survivors to do the same.

Journalist Regine Schlesinger from WBBM Newsradio interviewed Wiesel on several occasions.

"He really was the first to start talking about it," she says.

Schlesinger herself is the daughter of Holocaust survivors saved by Schindler's List, and they all met with Wiesel.

She says his calm demeanor gave weight to his powerful humanitarian messages.

"It didn't matter whether it was about atrocities against Jews. He spoke out against atrocities anywhere in the world," Schlesinger says.

At the Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie, sales of Wiesel's books have doubled since his death. That's where Fritzie Friztshall serves as president, and his lessons live on.

"We speak out so that history does not forget," she says.

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