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Holocaust survivor recalls moments from the past as war in Ukraine continues

A man who survived the Holocaust and calls Maine his home spoke out about the war unfolding in Ukraine.

MAINE, Maine — Charles Rotmil survived the Holocaust thanks to the courageous Christian families in Europe who took a chance on hiding him for years while the Nazi regime persecuted Jews and other minorities. 

Rotmil has been living in Maine for more than 10 years.

Recently, he sat down with NEWS CENTER Maine's Hannah Yechivi to speak about the war unfolding in Ukraine. 

The war in the European country has been going on for more than two months, and for survivors like Rotmil, it's bringing back painful memories of the Holocaust. 

He said there are similarities and differences between the two wars. 

"I sympathize and understand Ukraine because I was also on the road running away from the Germans. They're running away from the Russians. ... History repeats itself. It's crazy. But I do understand what it feels like to leave your homeland. ... You are on the road and you have nowhere to go and you are hunted down. That is very similar," Rotmil said.

The United States is taking new steps to support Ukraine. On Monday, the House of Representatives voted in favor of President Joe Biden's plan to spend nearly $40 billion on military and humanitarian aid.

Since the war started more than two months ago, at least 12 million people in Ukraine have been displaced from their homes, according to the World Health Organization.

Russian attacks have turned schools, supermarkets, and theaters into rubble.

Rotmil, 89, lived through the horrors of World War II in Europe, and he vividly remembers the pain and fear he experienced during the Holocaust.

RELATED: Charles Rotmil shares story of survival as a 'hidden child' during the Holocaust

"There are similarities, but there is no Hitler. There is no Stalin right now. It's Putin, and he is not such an evil man. It's more of a thing about invading a country. It's a little different than having a national policy of killing Jews. Hitler's thing is, 'We gotta get rid of the Jews.' In his book, 'Mein Kampf,' it talks about it," Rotmil said.

Rotmil told NEWS CENTER Maine he is very sympathetic to all the Ukrainian refugees because he knows what many are going through. He said he remembers being on the run as a kid and not having anywhere to go.

For a list of local options to help support efforts to help the people of Ukraine, click here


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