Elmira/Corning Regional Airport

Holocaust Survivor Graduates High School

Holocaust H.S. Graduate

Lansing (WENY) -- Seventy seven years -- that's how long it took Fred Voss to graduate from high school. After surviving six years in Nazi Germany as a teenager, Voss escaped to the United States. In America, he started a new life and later began speaking to students about taking a stand against prejudice.

"He speaks against hatred and in favor of tolerance and diversity and shares his personal history of the holocaust with students so that history has a face," said June Martin, a teacher at Lansing High School.

When Lansing High offered the honorary degree to Voss, he didn't think he was deserving. "Finally, I said OK," said Voss. "I accepted provided I can speak about the 1.5 million Jewish children who were killed by the Nazis and never had a chance to go to school."

His family knew they couldn't miss this special moment. His wife, daughter, son-in-law and three of his grandchildren stayed by his side to witness a rare event in watching their father and grandfather receive a high school diploma.

"It's just an incredible day for us to be here with him as he achieves something that, it's like a life goal for him, something he's always wanted," said Voss' grandson, Ari Lewenstein.

While Voss will no longer be giving lectures at the school, Principal Eric Hartz says he's left some big shoes to fill. "These are gaps and holes that I'm not sure how we're going to fill," said Hartz. "But with four great college,s and now five with Wells, hopefully we'll find somebody to come in and fill that hole."