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Holocaust survivor offers perspective on coronavirus pandemic

Irving Bienstock has survived tough times before. Looking to the past can offer a unique perspective.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — For many, this is a once in a lifetime experience. The coronavirus pandemic is altering every single aspect of life and with health officials predicting thousands of people will die, it's an extremely scary time. 

But, some people have lived through difficult times before and can offer perspective, words of advice and comfort.

“I’m scared, it’s not easy, I guess it's not easy for anybody,” says Irving Bienstock, a Holocaust survivor living in Charlotte.

It's what Bienstock felt as a young boy growing up in Nazi Germany, and it’s what he feels now -- an overwhelming sense of uncertainty.

“Most of us are hoping that it's not going to be us, but we don't know," Bienstock says about the coronavirus pandemic.

He lived through the Holocaust, a period of time where he had little control over what was going on around him and where he saw firsthand how fragile life can be.

"In the Holocaust, there was no ifs or buts about it, the Nazis made the decisions,” he says.

As we all adapt to a new normal amid the coronavirus pandemic, he says there's something we shouldn't take for granted: the choice to do what we're told.

“The best thing that we can do is follow what our leaders and our scientists are telling us, isolate us from each other so that we don't catch it,” Bienstock said.

Two moments in history that cannot be compared, and will impact different people in different ways. But looking to the past can offer a unique perspective.

“Today, countries are cooperating with each other and trying to come up with answers," he said. "At that time no one would help us, no one."

It's a reminder we will make it through if we help each other.

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