Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for June, 2015

From my friends in Australia
June 21, 2015 by Henry Benjamin

Five Sydney women, who were little children in April 1945, were  traveling on a train en route from Bergen-Belsen to Thereseinstadt when it was abandoned by the Germans and discovered by the advancing U.S. forces. 

Around the table l-r: Ilonka Blair, Judith Handley, Eva Reed, Lexie Keston. Ana Deleon , and Lea Farkas

Around the table l-r: Ilonka Blair, Judith Handley, Eva Reed, Lexie Keston. Ana Deleon  and Lea Farkas    Photo: Gaby Deleon

 

The five recently were joined by a sixth survivor to commemorate the 70th anniversary of their rescue by the U.S. troops.

It was the first time the five passengers in the abandoned train had sat down together.

Six years ago J-Wire told the story of the rescue when some of those liberated as children met their liberators for the first time.

You can read it here…   http://www.jwire.com.au/a-school-holocaust-project-re-unites-liberated-with-liberators/

Judith Handley,  Eva Reed,  Lexie Keston, Ana Deleon, Lea Farkas were joined by Ilonka Blair who survived Bergen-Belsen. All are members of  the Sydney Child Survivors Group.

The train at Magdeburg - Pic:  Major Clarence Benjamin - 743rd Tank Battalion

The lunch, hosted by Ana Deleon, gave the women an opportunity to exchange memories of that April day in 1945 when German troops mysteriously disappeared having abandoned the train abandoning their prisoned in Magdeburg, Germany…only to be replaced by the advancing Americans troops who were to liberate them.

Lexie Keston told J-Wire: “Our Liberation was on 13 April 1945.  We were liberated by the 9th US Army Tank brigade, at Farsleben which is 16 km from Magdeburg in Germany.  Apart from  Ilonka Blair  who was liberated at the Bergen-Belsen Camp we were all on a train from Bergen-Belsen and had been travelling since the 7th April. Ana Deleon organised our re-union lunch to celebrate 70 years since our Liberation.  Amongst our little group, we had girls from Hungary, the former Yugoslavia and Poland.”

Judith Handley and Lea Farkas were new to the group having been “discovered” living in Sydney by Ana Deleon. They have joined the Sydney Child Survivors group.

76-yr-old Lexie,  the “baby” of the group, added: “We had all gone our separate ways after the rescue as we had come from different backgrounds. Somehow fate has brought us all together.”

Frank Towers is the last surviving veteran of the 30th Division that had any hands-on experience with this event. He told J-Wire: “I have been in contact with Lexie and Ana.”

http://www.jwire.com.au/on-a-train-to-australia/

Read Full Post »

April 15th 1945                                                                                                                   Somewhere in Germany

You will probably be wondering who I am and what business I have, writing to you.- I am one of the millions of soldiers of the United States Army, who is fighting for all the oppressed peoples of the world and hopes to have reestablished decency and honor to all mankind, with the defeat of Hitlerism.

*****

My friend Varda in Israel sent me a copy of this letter she recently received from the widow of  Mr. Shmuel ‘Tommy’ Huppert of Israel. In it, an American soldier is taking the time to write to the husband of a Holocaust survivor to let him know that his wife and young son (Tommy) have been liberated, and that they have survived the horrors of the Holocaust and the carnage of ‘Hitlerism’.

Young Tommy and his mother, Mrs. Hilde Huppert,  were liberated at Farsleben on the transport from Bergen Belsen on April 13th, 1945. They managed to get to Palestine shortly after liberation, bringing with them many, many orphaned children, including my friend Lily Cohen.  Hilde’s manuscript, Hand in Hand with Tommy, was one of the first Holocaust memoirs completed after the war and a cathartic way for her to attempt to come to terms with what had happened.

It took years to be properly published, as it was originally rejected because it was ‘too soon after the war’. Later, at 93 years of age, Hilde was asked if there was anything specific she wished to convey to American readers of her book. She replied, ‘Tell them I will never forget those American GIs who liberated us from the Germans…I can still recall their amazed faces in that dusty jeep and the U.S. Army symbol. I remember kissing one of them, and I want the American people to know that I am grateful to them.’

One of the soldiers, on the Sunday following the Friday liberation, took the time to send this note on her behalf to her husband in Palestine. It now resides in the collection at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Authority.

4-15-45 Gartner to Huppert 1

April 15th 1945                                                                                                                      Somewhere in Germany

Dear Mr. Huppert,

You will probably be wondering who I am and what business I have, writing to you.- I am one of the millions of soldiers of the United States Army, who is fighting for all the oppressed peoples of the world and hopes to have reestablished decency and honor to all mankind, with the defeat of Hitlerism.

Two days ago, it was the priviledge (sic) of our unit, to be able to liberate a trainload full of people of all nations imaginable, who were being transferred from a concentration camp near Hannover, to some other place. Our advances were so swift, that the SS guards, left this particular train where it was and took off.

That is how I became acquainted with your wife, Mrs. Hilde Huppert, who asked me to drop you this note, saying, that both she and your son Tommy, are both healthy and well and now being well taken care of by our military governmental authorities. In actual fact, your wife wrote a message for you on a piece of paper in pencil, which she asked me to convey to you. Unfortunately, however, the penciled lines faded in my pocket, and I can no longer read what was written on it. The contents of the message, though, was to let you know that your wife and son are both safe and sound.

I am sure that your wife will soon be able to get into contact with you directly through the Red Cross, and I hope that in a none too distant future, your family will once more be peacefully united.

Sincerely yours,

Cpl. Frank Gartner

Fluent in many languages, Gartner was the translator for the 743rd Tank Battalion’s commander, Col. Duncan. He was originally from Estonia, and resided in Los Angeles, California. If anyone knows more about him, please leave a reply on this page. More can be found about the 743rd Tank Battalion in their regimental history, which can be downloaded here.

Transcribed by Alanna Belanger’15 and Alexis Winney ’15.

Read Full Post »