My grandfather’s rescue from the camps

My grandfather was lucky in many ways (strange ways, to be sure, but still lucky). He was in Auschwitz. When the allies bombed the railway stations near Passau, he was sent to Buchenwald to help rebuild. He was close to death (under 83 pounds) when the allies freed the town and the camp. My grandfather was in a pile of bodies to be buried, when an American soldier, Sidney Schachtmeister, noticed him barely moving. Schachmeister grabbed my father and bullied his way into a hospital, insisting that they take him. This saved his life. Many of the freed inmates died when the soldiers gave them normal food and chocolate – they couldn’t handle the rich food. My grandfather was treated for a month or so in the hospital, with Shachtmeister visiting when he could and keeping in touch afterwards.

You can see the photo better in the Germany photo album on the right, but this is the photo that Sidney Schachtmeister took when he noticed that my grandfather was alive. He’s the one in the middle, facing up.

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My speech at the Pocking memorial service

this is what I said at the memorial service in Pocking, Germany when we rededicated the memorial my grandfather placed there in 1946 and dedicated a new memorial to the children who died after the war.

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We are all echoes of the past. When I sat down to write these words, I thought of how my grandfather affected my life. How he affected my mother, who in turn affected me. And I had some thoughts that I wanted to share with you. Not anything that flows – just pieces in time from my memories.

 

My grandfather ate faster than anyone I ever met. I once asked him why he ate so quickly. He answered that he had learned to eat fast in the camps – and always ate fast from that day on. As a child, I thought it was fun to try to beat him. I still eat quicker than most people – I’ve never been able to stop.

 

When I was 13, I spent the summer living with him and my grandmother. He had one set of books in English in his apartment – the collected works of Shakespeare. I read them from beginning to end. My college major was in English Literature – specializing in British playwrights. My love of theater came from that summer.

 

My grandfather was an amazing man. He loved me. He told me in private that he considered me a miracle – he considered all living Jews a miracle. That summer I lived with him, I saw him continuously busy: helping others, learning, giving advice. He knew everyone at synagogues, stores, banks, on the street. I see a lot of that in my mother as well. Today, one of my key roles at Microsoft is to lead our efforts with our community. The drive that I have to make a difference through the software that I help create comes from him. The time I donate to schools and various charities comes from him.

 

The last time I saw my grandfather was through tears. I had flown in to visit him ahead of the rest of my family. He didn’t realize that I’d have to leave earlier than the rest of them as well. When he realized that I would be leaving within an hour or so, he started to cry. He left for the synagogue – it was time for the afternoon service. I went up to the synagogue after him, stood next to him; we put our arms around each other and prayed, and cried. After the services, he kissed me and again, in a whisper, called me his miracle and told me he loved me. That was the last time I saw him.

 

As I said, no deep thoughts – just pieces in time. I still miss my grandfather – and I’m grateful that this trip allows us to share some of him with you, and lets me learn more about him, his life and his deeds.

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I’ve attached 3 photos – the first is the original memorial, the second is the children’s memorial, the third is a photo of me speaking at the ceremony.

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Just got back from Europe

Just got back from an amazing trip to Europe. Visited Germany and Hungary, mainly, with a one day stop in Vienna. It was to go back with my mother, aunt and cousin to see where they grew up, how they got thru the war, rededicate a memorial my grandfather put up after the war and meet some relatives in Hungary who I’d never seen.

Anyway, I’ll post details at some point, but I just uploaded three new albums of pics – one from each country. Be warned – they include some photos from right after the war – including the one taken of my grandfather on a pile of bodies.

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What kind of English do you speak?

I rarely do these, but what the heck. As you can see, it makes sense. I was born in Ohio, lived in Texas through high school, then NYC.

Your Linguistic Profile:
60% General American English
20% Dixie
20% Yankee
0% Midwestern
0% Upper Midwestern

What Kind of American English Do You Speak?

 

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Buy this book!

This made me really angry. CSPAN book-TV was going to televise a lecture by an author of a book on the Holocaust. In order to "show both sides", they were then going to give an equivalent amount of time by someone who denies that there were ever death camps in Nazi Germany. As someone whose grandfather was in Auschwitz, and who lost many relatives that I never got to meet, I find this to be political correctness taken to the extreme.

As the Post article states – if someone is going to lecture on the evils of slavery, will CSPAN now put on someone glorifying it? Ridiculous.

The author, Deborah Lipstadt, opted to not appear rather than have this happen. Her publisher supported her despite the loss of publicity on a channel watched (by definition) by heavy readers.

I expect that folks will call for letters to CSPAN. I have a different idea. I just bought the book to help make up for the losses that this lack of publicity may cause. I recommend that you do the same.

Update: Let the letter writing begin!

Update 2: Professional historians have sent CSPAN a protest letter (via Roger Simon).

 

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Added some more India pics

Just added some more pics from the India trip. The ones of Pondicherry brought a bit of a chill as I realized that I took those about 2 weeks before the Tsunami. Luckily, Pondicherry has a big sea wall, and wasn’t hit as hard as many places.

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Cowboys lose again…

It was soooo close for soooo long… Figures…

 

And adding my Technorati Profile

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Best.Web.Game.Ever!!!!

Check this one out: What’s That Song. Type in a band, or a year and have at it.

Joe Jackson: 10/10. 8.1 seconds. <g>

 

yag

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D*mn Cowboys!

Damn Cowboys!

The fact that they’re so inconsistent is killing my fingernails… I think I bit off a cuticle.

At least we beat Washington!

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