Holocaust survivor Leo Bretholz tells his story of survival in war time Europe.
|On Tuesday, July 17, students and teachers listened
to the emotional testimonials of survivors Leo Bretholz, Sam Harris
and Halina Silber.
In the afternoon, the group toured the Capitol and met Representative Pete Sessions of Texas (son of Holland & Knight partner William S. Sessions), U.S. Representative Melissa Bean, U.S. Representative Eliot Engel, U.S. Representative Mark Kirk, U.S. Representative John P. Sarbanes, U.S. Representative Patrick J. Tiberi, Mark Clack from U.S. Senator Ben Cardin's office and U.S. Senator Chuck Grassle.
In the evening, there was a group dinner at Zaytinya and a lot of laughs during a performance of Shear Madness at the Kennedy Center.
Survivor BiographiesLeo Bretholz (86) Born in Vienna, Austria. He resides in Baltimore, Md. Leo survived the Holocaust by escaping from the Nazis and others seven times during his seven-year ordeal that criss-crossed war-torn Europe. He leaped from trains, outran police and hid anywhere that offered a few more seconds of safety. He swam the River Sauer at the German-Belgian border and later climbed the Alps on feet so battered that they froze in his socks. Leo crawled under the barbed wire of a French holding camp, hid in a village in the Pyrenees while gendarmes searched it, and in the dark hours of one November morning, he escaped from a train bound for Auschwitz. Leo arrived in the United States in 1947 and was married in Baltimore. He and his wife, Flo, have three children and four grandchildren. In 1998, he wrote his memoirs with the help of Baltimore Sun columnist Michael Olesker. The book chronicles the events during his seven years on the run. Leo's book is entitled Leap Into Darkness: Seven Years on the Run in Wartime Europe.
Sam Harris (69) Born in Deblin, Poland. He resides in Chicago, Ill. Sam was just four-years-old, the youngest of seven children, when Hitler's army invaded Harris' town of Deblin, Poland. During the invasion and ensuing occupation, Sam's family, with the exception of his two older sisters, was killed by the Nazis. After hiding three and a half years in the Deblin and Czestochowa concentration camps, Sam was liberated by the Russian army on Jan. 17, 1945. After liberation, he was placed in an orphanage in Lublin, Poland, until his surviving sister brought him to live with her in Vienna, Austria, where his education began in the second grade. In September 1945, he was brought to the United States by the United States Organization of Rehabilitation of European Children and subsequently brought to Chicago by the Jewish Children's Bureau, where he was placed for adoption in Northbrook, Ill. Sam later attended and graduated from Grinnell College in Iowa. Currently, Sam is serving as president of the Holocaust Memorial Foundation of Illinois and was awarded the State of Illinois Human Rights Award for Distinguished Leadership in Protecting the Human Rights of the People of Illinois. His autobiography is entitled Sammy: Child Survivor of the Holocaust. Sam is married to Dede and has two children and two grandchildren.
Halina Silber (78) Halina Brunengraver Silber survived the Holocaust because of Oskar Schindler. She was number 16 on his list. She was born in Krakow, Poland to a family of seven. After the German invasion in 1939, Halina’s family moved to small villages in the hopes that they might be saved from the concentration camps. As hope diminished, Halina’s mother arranged for her daughter to enter a forced-labor camp just outside of Krakow, believing that the job would save her life. Soon after Halina departed, her parents and two siblings were taken to the Belzec Extermination Camp where they were murdered. While at the forced-labor camp, Halina learned that she was selected to work in Oskar Schindler’s factory. She worked there from 1943 until liberation. Halina is the widow of David Silber, a survivor of Auschwitz.