Two officers arrived at Arlette Baker’s home in France in December 1942 to take her family away to a Jewish concentration camp.
Her father begged the officers to spare his 4-year-old daughter. Thankfully, they did.
When they arrived at the gate, Baker’s parents hugged her. She headed with the family maid to her grandparents’ house.
Her parents entered the camp. They died two months later.
The memory is still vivid in Baker's mind, she told hundreds Sunday inside the Charleston Museum.
“For a long time, I was in denial,” she said. “But they are alive in me. They are constantly with me.”
Baker gave the keynote address at Charleston's annual Holocaust Remembrance.
The event began in Marion Square, where music played in the background as residents read off the names of their family members who died in the Holocaust.
One by one, the relatives honored their loved ones. A couple hundred attendees listened, surrounding the trees near the Calhoun Street side of Marion Square.
"Never Forget," was written near the bottom of the banner behind the podium.
That phrase is important, said Patrick Labbe, a member of a local Jewish group in Summerville. The Holocaust survivors are getting older, he said, making events like the one on Sunday even more important.
"We can never forget," he said. "And it's good to see younger people here because that means these important stories about our history can be told again."
A few of the remaining survivors were present. As they were honored, each of their stories were told. Some were subjected to beatings and sexual abuse in the camps. Others were saved by neighbors who hid them in their homes and businesses.
After the Marion Square remembrance, a portion of Meeting Street was blocked off so participants could take a silent march from the park to the museum.
There, Baker shared her story, reminding the audience that her goal was not to receive pity. Rather, it was to help people understand what was going on in France during the Holocaust.
"My life was shattered because I became an orphan," she said. "It deprived me of a regular childhood."
Her story resonated with Jeff Mair, and his wife, Phillis, whose mom is also a Holocaust survivor. Dientje Krant Adkins was taken from her parents in the Netherlands at age 4 and went to live with a Catholic family. She reunited with them four years later, and eventually moved to Charleston in 1963.
“Today means a lot for me because I heard similar stories growing up,” Phillis Mair said. And I know my family is going to keep passing them down. It’s vital.”
Baker has the same goal. She said it's imperative to remember the 6 million who died in the Holocaust, including 1.5 million children.
“Don't forget them,” Baker said. “Speak about them. And the younger ones here today, never forget. Give them a second life. It's your duty."