- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

FREEPORT, Ill. (AP) - The last time Alexandra Goode saw her father was a day he had taken her to school. The year was 1941 and her family was living in Yugoslavia. That day, the German army invaded her town, bombed it and took over her school. Her home was destroyed, her twin brother and the governess killed. Her father and older brother would be conscripted into Tito’s Communist Resistance Army and eventually killed.

It was the day her life change forever, the day she began to tap into her faith and inner strength. She spent several months in an orphanage before being loaded up by the German army into cattle cars and sent to Dachau, the notorious Nazi concentration camp. She was alone, scared and watched the horrors of war unfold before her eyes.

Goode told her story to about 100 people at an afternoon tea at Zion Church.

“On the day the Germans came to the orphanage we were told to dress and get out,” Goode said. “One German soldier came up to me, picture of me in hand, and told me he had served with my father, but he had been killed. It was then I knew my father would not be coming for me. I went to the concentration camp, where we were put to work.”

Goode spoke of the horror of pushing a wheelbarrow with babies and small children, many near death or already dead, to be loaded onto a train. If she or any of the other children stopped loading the bodies, the German soldiers would shoot them.

This slightly accented woman, who now lives with her husband George in Heller, Texas, stood before the silenced room to tell her story of survival. She spoke of her unwavering faith that kept her strong. That faith and strength is what got her through the Holocaust. She tells her story so people don’t forget, because as she said, “The Holocaust still exists in parts of the world today. It’s important that people remember a time back then and realize what is going on today.”

Goode delivered a matter-of-fact speech. She spoke of hate and bitterness, and questioned her faith in God. She said she once asked God to take her life, but woke up the next day realizing she had to renew her fighting spirit.

“I felt God’s presence and I felt loved,” she said. “My heart changed. And it was from that moment on I was able to comfort and aid the people I came in contact with.”

It was getting near the end of the war in 1945, when Goode and several girls were able to sneak out of the camp and board a train. They rode the cattle car for days, not knowing where they might end up, but when the train finally stopped, they found themselves in a forest. It was only when they ran from the train car in what was then the British occupied zone of Lubeck, Germany that the girls realized they were on a train filled with German soldiers. She was free.

This was at the end of the war. She had no family, no home and no country. After a period of time, she was introduced to a family that would sponsor her trip to America. She landed at Ellis Island, looked at the Statue of Liberty and knew she was free.

Goode ended up in Memphis, Tenn., and eventually worked with a doctor as a medical technician. She also met her husband George. They have been married for 64 years, having raised a family, and they now enjoy their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

She travels the country telling her Holocaust story, and also ventures to Russia, her birth country, to aid the many orphan children who need help finding families. She works closely with Scott Werntz, associate pastor at Zion Church, whom she met in Texas in 1998. Werntz is responsible for bringing Goode to Freeport.

“She is an incredible woman with a powerful story and message of faith,” Werntz said. “She inspires people, and people connect with her. I want people who are older to hear her relatable message, but I also want the younger generation to be inspired by her fighting spirit and learn about never giving up.”

Norma Stine teared up as she talked about Goode after the tea.

“I would like to think I would have the same strength she had,” Stine said. “She is an amazing woman.”

“My reason for my story is a reminder of a time in history that really still does exist,” Goode said. “I’ll never forget that early morning when I landed at Ellis Island. The Statue of Liberty told me I was free, but it is my God who saved me.”


Source: The (Freeport) Journal-Standard, https://bit.ly/1JZcf79


Information from: The Journal-Standard, https://www.journalstandard.com/jshome.taf

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