As time goes on, the Holocaust survivors are dying out. Since this month we commemorate them, I think we owe a responsibility to retell their stories.
Recently, I visited the Holocaust Museum in Miami. A Holocaust survivor, Isaac Klein,was telling his personal story and answering questions.
Stern started out by describing his family life before the Holocaust. His parent’s names were Simon and Pepi Klein. His twin brother Tsvi and him were the eldest of eight children. Before 1938, the family were farmers, and led a normal happy life.
When the Germans took over Czechoslovakia in 1938, the family’s farmland was taken away, and their citizenship revoked. Isaac and his family were deported to Poland.
After a few years they were allowed to return to Czechoslovakia where they worked under Hungarian military officials doing hard labor.
In 1944, their luck ran out. They were put on cattle cars, and were transported to a concentration camp in Auschwitz-Birkenaus. .
Dr. Josef Mengele, known as the “Doctor of Death”, kept the boys in D-lager camp with other sets of twins. He did experiments on them. Most of them were done under anesthesia, so Klein doesn’t remember the specifics.
By the end of March 1944, the Germans knew the Russians were close, so they forced the prisoners on a death march. The destination was Melk, Austria. Somehow Isaac and his brother both survived. On the march they received no food, water, or shelter.
In 1945, they were liberated by the Americans, but that wasn’t the end of Klein’s story. His bother and him went back home to find any relatives, but there weren’t any left.
They both decided to emigrate to Israel. They were smuggled on a boat to Haifa. After the British captured the boat, they were held in a detention camp for 8-10 months. They were finally released into the population.
He served in the Israeli army, navy and merchant marine.
In 1962, he moved to the United states, got married, and raised a family.
Four years ago, he took the path of the March of the living dead with youngsters from all over the world. He thought it was important for them to know about it.
“Who says there’s no life after death,” said Klein.
Klein still believes in God, and is grateful he survived.