November 23, 2011 Edition

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Gage Ditto (from left), a sophomore at Walnut Ridge High School, meets Holocaust survivor Henry Greenbaum (center) at the Randolph County Development Center in Pocahontas. Ruth Ann Ellis (right) is chairman of the Black River Technical College Foundation Board, which helped sponsor the event.

Holocaust survivor shares story

John Bland

A number of students from area schools, as well as the public, had the opportunity to hear a special presentation by Holocaust survivor Henry Greenbaum last Tuesday and Wednesday in Pocahontas.

Greenbaum gave a total of three presentations at the Randolph County Development Center on the Black River Technical College campus.

"The opportunity to personally hear eyewitness accounts of this watershed event is rare and soon will disappear altogether," said Dr. Jan Ziegler, instructor of Holocaust Studies at BRTC.

Born in Poland in 1928, Greenbaum had lived a typical childhood until 1939 and at age 11, when rumors of an impending German invasion of Poland became widespread.

Greenbaum recounted that he and his sisters began working at a factory, his family was forced to move into a ghetto, then labor camps, and some of them were murdered or perished through the ordeal.

In 1943, Greenbaum and a sister tried to escape one of the camps. His sister was killed, and he was wounded. In 1944, he was deported to Auschwitz and placed in a satellite camp.

He showed the audiences a tattoo on his arm. By that time, most everything had been taken from him, including his name. The tattoo was the number he was known by.

As American forces neared the area where Greenbaum and his fellow group of prisoners were located, the prisoners, almost too weak to walk on their own, were sent on a death march. Those who fell from exhaustion were shot and killed on the spot.

On April 25, 1945, Greenbaum and his group were liberated by U.S. soldiers. By then, he was 17 years old and weighed only 75 pounds, after near starvation from a sparse diet of cabbage broth and raw potatoes.

In the summer of 1946, Greenbaum and a brother were able to immigrate to the United States, where they joined a sister and another brother. Greenbaum settled in Bethesda, Md., where he and his late wife raised four children.

His presentation, the seventh in a series at BRTC, was held in cooperation with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Sponsors included Mike and Barbara Dunn, the BRTC Foundation, Bank of Pocahontas, First National Bank of Walnut Ridge, Hoxie, Pocahontas and Bono and iBERIABANK.

Dina Hufstedler of BRTC and a resident of Walnut Ridge was event coordinator for the presentations.

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