Victor Breitburg is a survivor of the Lódz Ghetto, Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Rhemsdorf and Theresienstadt concentration camps. He was liberated with a group known as “The Boys”. Their experiences have been documented in Sir Martin Gilbert’s Book, The Boys:Triumph Over Adversity. Victor and many of “The Boys” are still in contact with one another, although as it is with WWII veterans, their numbers are slowly diminishing.
Victor’s journey from Lódz, to the camps in Europe, to England, Scotland and the United States and his new life in America is the story told in this volume.
Victor completed studies in America, became a successful businessman and an accomplished lecturer on the Holocaust, having received numerous awards and citations for his role as an educator.
He is a widower, having been married to his beloved wife Lucille for sixty years.
He currently lives in Coconut Creek Florida, and at 84 years old, occasionally speaks on Yom HaShoa. He has written some poems, short stories and is considering a novel based on the early days of the Mossad, the Israeli Secret Service. Victor has two daughters, Denise and Myra. Denise is married to Mark and they have two children, Maya and Eli.
Excerpt from Chapter 9: Resettlements and Goodbyes
We must have been traveling for several hours, with some stops to permit other trains to pass. We observed that eastbound trains were army trains and westbound trains were transports for the Red Cross. We knew that the Germans were suffering heavy casualties on the eastern front. Were they losing the war? Were they winning on the western front? Is this why they needed our help?
We stopped for the night and every one settled down to sleep. We still had bread and there was a barrel of water. If we had to go to the toilet, we put up a little curtain and went through a crack in the floor as we relieved ourselves down onto the railroad tracks. The mood on the train improved. Most were thinking that if they wanted to kill us, why would they use such a valuable train? We must have stopped a dozen times. Every time we stopped, we stood there for hours. This was the third day.
All of sudden there was a commotion. We went through a gate and the train stopped. There was silence, and we knew we had arrived. Everyone put on their backpacks and waited for the doors of the train to open. I heard my heart beating. I was not at ease and my lips were trembling. My mother gathered us in her arms and told us to stay together. “If for some reason we get separated, we should not forget that our meeting destination is with my sister in Brooklyn.” She kissed us. I hugged my mother.
I said, “Nothing is going happen to us, we are going to stay together.”
I took Felek’s hand, but he pulled it away and said, “Take care of Sarah. I am twelve years old and am able to help myself.” I smiled at him. He certainly was growing up. I was surprised at his reaction. He turned out to be such a good-looking kid. He was a Breitburg; blond and blue eyed. I am a cross breed between the Wajnmans and Brajtburgs.
Waiting for the door to slide open was hard. We didn’t know what to expect. At that moment I felt we should pray to the Almighty, “Please let this nightmare end for us so that one day we might go to the Promised Land and serve you for eternity.”
Joseph Krygier is the Pastor of New Covenant Baptist Fellowship in Buffalo, New York. He has written about and been engaged in cross-cultural ministry for over thirty years. He has taught in Poland, Ukraine, Romania and Australia. His current overseas ministry is TheosDoulos Church Planting Movement, training pastors in the Philippines on the island of Mindanao. Before becoming ordained, he was involved in theater, dance and lighting design. His a musician and a composer and he is currently writing a one-man play, Chagrined, based on this book. An audio book version will soon be available with the talent of Lee Wilkof and other Broadway actors. He is married to Deborah, who works for the Buffalo Public Schools and has a son Aaron, who is pursuing a career as a writer and an actor.