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On this day, April 13, 1945 - 75 years ago - my father was liberated by American troops from Nazi Germany. Against all odds, he has survived over 2 years in the Bergen Belsen concentration camp, along with his mother, brother and adoptive father 1/ #farsleben
My father was born in Lvov, Poland in 1930. In 1939, Lvov was occupied by Soviet troops as part of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact of non-aggression that gobbled up Poland between the two countries. 2/
In 1941, Nazi Germany invaded Soviet-occupied Poland. My grandfather was almost immediately ID'd as a jewish leader and shot over a mass grave by Nazis. My father and his family were sent to the Lvov ghetto. My father never talked to us about this period in his life. 3/
During this time, a man named Maks Wolfsthal - who had lost his wife and two children in the Nazi invasion adopted my father, his brother and "married" their mother. Maks has Palestinian passports for a woman and two children, and my family became his for the passports. 4/
At the time, Palestine was a British protectorate, which made anyone with a Palestinian passport a British "subject." In the end, this link would save my father's life. 5/
At some point in 1943, my father and the entire family was sent to Bergen Belsen concentration camp where my father stayed until April 1945. They were starved, beaten, lived in lice-infested, disease-ridden conditions. The guards were cruel and people died daily. 6/
Belsen was not a "death" camp in that it did not have the ovens of Auschwitz, but people died by the thousands from disease, malnutrition, being worked to death, and even for the sport of the guards. 10,000s of thousands died in the camp. 7/
There were five sub-camps in Belsen. My father - because of their special passports - were in a "special zone" and the prisoners were being held for prisoner swaps with German citizens held by the British. It was because of this that the people had any "value" to the Nazis. 8/
When my father was alive he would come and talk to my hebrew school class yearly about his experiences and keep the memory of what had happened to him and millions of others alive. It was the defining influence on my childhood and my life. 9/
As the Allied Armies pushed east in the spring of 1945 Bergen Belsen's prisoners were put on trains and shipped to an extermination camp - many to Auschwitz, some to Triblinka. My father's train left BB on April 10 en route to Theresienstadt. 10/
Because of the war, attacks, confusion and chaos, the train - which left BB on April 10th - never made it to one of those camps. 11/
On April 12, the train was stopped overnight outside of a small village called Fasleben, outside of Magdeberg. google.com/maps/place/Far… Less than 100 miles west of Berlin. 12/
On the morning of April 13, 1945 a small unit of 30th Infantry Division (Old Hickory) - which had been part of the Normandy landing and the liberation of Paris - was pursuing what remained of the Nazis east came across the parked train. 13/
The 743 tank division of the 30th came across the train, and the old, starving Nazi guards immediately fled. The resulting scene was impossible to image or fully describe. Amazingly, one of the GIs had a camera and took photos. 14/
My 13 year old father is the boy with a hat and his hand behind his head. His 10 year old younger brother Joe is in front of him holding a piece of paper. static.timesofisrael.com/www/uploads/20… 15/
All I knew for years was that my father was liberated on April 13, 1945 from a train. I only discovered the where and who and how later, thanks to a wonderful high school teacher named @marozell who asks his students to learn history from their family. 16/
One student had a grandfather who had been part of the 30th Infantry and took the photos. He told about his role in the war during his grandchild's research and almost forgot to mention the train. 17/
Some of Matt's fantastic work can be found here - teachinghistorymatters.com/the-liberation…

He also has a book on the subject and teaching history - The Train Near Magdeberg - amazon.com/Magdeburg_The-…
Frank Towers was a Lt with the 30th Division. He held an annual reunion of survivors and liberators from 2006. He died in 2017. In 2016, I was able to meet him and several survivors from the train, and learn much about how my father had lived and was liberated. 18/
To meet Frank, to thank him, to learn from him and other survivors and their families was an experience I will never forget. 19/
My father believed every day was a gift. He was right. But some days are more special than others. On this, the 75th anniversary of his liberation, I am reminded of how lucky I am. How much I owe my father, and how much I owe my country. 20/
In the end, good defeats evil. It cannot prevent suffering, but sometimes the most defiant act is surviving to live another day. That I am here, that other children of survivors are here and the work they do to make the world a better place, is proof of concept. 21/
May we never forget. May their memories be a blessing. And today, the Wolfsthals are going to give thanks. End/
More on the 30th Infantry - whitehouse.gov/briefings-stat…
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