The Estherleon Schwartz story: A life of dealing with fear & hate

- How do you stop hate? That's the subject of this week's FOX 11 News: In Depth. Hal Eisner asked that question to a woman who survived Hitler's holocaust and she's convinced that people are not born to hate. They learn it.

Estherleon Schwartz was 4-years-old when she and her family ran for their lives to escape the Nazis. "We were always running. I was always scared," she says. Schwartz says, her dad literally threw her to safety at the Swiss border.

She describes it as if it just happened! "My poppa picked me up at the wired fence and he looked up (to God) and said 'save my daughter and she'll always serve you'. He threw me over into the arms of soldier and he started to climb over and got shot... he made it and he pulled my mother over so, we were in a neutral country... Switzerland."
 
They survived… But, her grandparents. aunts, uncles and others she left behind were killed by the Nazis in the concentration camps.

Life in the decades ahead would include some very scary moments. Her grandson was at the Granada Hills Jewish Community Center in the 1999 when a gunman - a white supremacist - fired 70 rounds into the center and wounded five people: three children, a teenage counselor, and an office worker. Her grandson was not hurt.

If that wasn't enough trauma, her teenage granddaughter escaped one of the world's deadliest high school shootings at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen people were killed and over a dozen more hurt. Her granddaughter was not hurt.

To Schwartz, coming to America wasn't easy. As a child, the family settled in LA's West Adams District. She says, "I had a lot of problems when I came to America. They called me a 'greenhorn"... they called me all kinds of names here in America where I was safe.

They didn't mean to do it, but at that time people were prejudice. And, if you were a Jew and you didn't speak English and you looked different with your hair and the clothes you're wearing...  so, I grew up being bullied. I grew up in an anti-semitic environment." She was 8-years-old.

Schwartz doesn't believe people are born to hate. She says, "We are pure coming out of the mothers womb and all we want is being nurtured."
 
She believes bad childhoods create hateful kids who can grow up to be hateful adults. She thinks "hate" is learned and can be unlearned.
 
Her idea is after the pledge of allegiance in school kids should form a circle and on a daily basis talk about what they're grateful for. She believes that would help because kids would have a voice and learn to appreciate each other.

Hear more from Estherleon Schwartz in our video report.

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