Liberator, survivor speak as world marks Holocaust Remembrance Day

Bustleton’s Ernie Gross on Friday night helped members of Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel learn more about the Holocaust.

Gross, 90, a native of Romania, spent time in concentration camps, eventually liberated by Americans in Dachau, a camp in Germany.

Joining him at K.I., a synagogue in Elkins Park, was Don Greenbaum, a U.S. Army member who was part of the liberation of Dachau on April 29, 1945.

Their talk came in the leadup to International Holocaust Remembrance Day, this past Monday, which also marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

The talk by Gross and Greenbaum was arranged by Chuck Feldman, president of the Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center, located inside KleinLife, 10100 Jamison Ave.

From left: Don Greenbaum, Ernie Gross, Chuck Feldman.

Feldman explained that, last year, 20 survivors presented more than 300 school programs to some 39,000 students.

The program has used Skype to present 60 programs this school year already.

Greenbaum, 94, believes presentations by him, Gross and others are the best way to convey what the Holocaust was like.

“We’re not a movie. We’re not a book,” he said.

Greenbaum said his unit was ordered to capture and destroy Dachau. As the Army approached, there was a terrible smell, he recalled, due to dead bodies. The SS surrendered the camp.

When the Americans noticed the condition of the survivors – 15-year-old Gross weighed just 80 to 85 pounds – they radioed for food, blankets and medical supplies.

Gross recalled having little food or change of clothes during his time in the camps, along with being tired, cold and wet.

Twelve years ago, Gross read a story in the Jewish Exponent about Greenbaum’s experience at Dachau. He reached out to his liberator, and the two met for the first time at Tiffany Diner.

Greenbaum calls Gross his “kid brother.”

To schedule a program for students, call 215-464-4701 or email info@hamec.org.

To make a donation, go to www.hamec.org or mail a check to Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center, KleinLife, Suite 210, 10100 Jamison Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19116. ••