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April 10, 2012 12:36 pm

Honoring Survivors and Soldiers Alongside American Armor

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M4A3 Sherman tank. Photo: wiki commons.

The liberation of the Nazi death camps by Allied forces during the closing days of World War II, including Buchenwald some 67 years ago this week, was commemorated by Holocaust survivors, liberators, members of the clergy and school students recently at the American Airpower Museum at Republic Airport in New York.  The anniversary comes as Jews around the world observe Passover, a holiday that tells the story of liberation from slavery.

An interfaith program at the museum was held against a backdrop of World War II American armor that are similar to those that knocked down the gates to the death camps. Jack and Thea Rumstein of Levittown, survivors of Mauthausen concentration camp and Ivor Segalowitz of Great Neck, a survivor of Buchenwald were in attendance.  Also attending was Hy Horowitz of East Meadow, a G.I. liberator of one of the camps who celebrated his 92nd birthday during the anniversary program.

As American World War II armor rumbled up to the museum to start the program Thea Rumstein spoke of her survival in Mauthausen and her memories of hearing similar sounds of American tanks at the gates of the concentration camp. In recounting life after liberation here in the United States with her husband Jack, the success of her children and grandchildren she told the crowd with a broad smile, “Hitler would not be happy.”

Ivar Segalowitz recalled the death march to Buchenwald when he was 13 years old that he believed he survived because a German Wehrmacht soldier gave him a loaf of bread. “Today I have a responsibility to retell my story so that a new generation understands what occurred and why it is a moral imperative to stand up against this kind of inhumanity.”

Hy Horowitz, a Sherman tank commander who was among the liberators of the death camps told an audience of students, veterans and visitors, “I will never forget a British soldier who, coming face to face with thousands of bodies at Bergen Belsen, fell to the ground, clutching his rosaries and asking for divine guidance in the face of such a monstrous view.”

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