TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Holocaust survivors in Pima County are getting their COVID-19 vaccinations. Seventy-six-year-old Theresa Dulgov received her first shot Wednesday on the anniversary of Auschwitz Liberation Day.
“We were allies with the Germans until March, when in March they came in and got the Jews,” she said.
Dulgov was born in Hungary in 1944. She lost much of her family including her grandmother who was murdered in Auschwitz.
“I was born in June just in the midst when they were picking everybody up,” she said. “They knew it was the end and they wanted to kill as many as they could.”
Holocaust survivors like Dulgov, who have been through so much, are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19 and its impacts.
“The isolation of the COVID pandemic has brought back a lot of their past traumas to the surface. Feelings of separation, being locked up and of course the anti-Semitism and divisiveness we’ve seen in our nation,” said Sharon Glassberg, a wellness support specialist and clinical therapist for Jewish Family and Children Services of Southern Arizona.
Glassberg said the organization is working with the health department to make sure Holocaust survivors have access to the vaccine.
On Wednesday morning, Dulgov received her vaccine at Tucson Medical Center. The day was especially meaningful because it was also International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 76th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
Dulgov hopes people use the day to remember the Holocaust and the millions of lives taken.
“I was a teacher. I constantly told the children. You don’t appreciate what you have, just like you can’t, because you never lost it,” she said.
Most of all, she shares her story in the hopes people will learn from it.
“You can’t sit by and let things happen. Like what happened in Washington D.C. That’s all hatred and that’s how it starts. It starts small,” she said.
Jewish Family and Children Services estimates about 70 Holocaust survivors live in southern Arizona.