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The A-Blast

The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

Holocaust survivor speaks at AHS

Holocaust survivor Henry Greenbaum spoke for about an hour about his experiences in concentration camps and in the Jewish Death March.

A packed auditorium with AHS students and teachers watched as 84-year-old Henry Greenbaum hobbled up the auditorium steps during ATOM time on Dec. 17, ready to talk about his experience surviving one of the world’s most tragic atrocities: the Holocaust.

Greenbaum was admitted to Auschwitz concentration camp when he was 12 and lived through the historic event until he was 17 before being liberated on April 25, 1945. He lost most of his family over the five-year period, attempting to escape from the camp when he was 15. After being grazed in the head with a bullet during his attempt at freedom, Greenbaum was transferred to a work camp called Buna in the spring of 1945. While there and being a member of the Death March at 17, his weight dropped to a mere 75 pounds.

“We traveled with no water and no bathroom,” Greenbaum said. “We were given a lot of food with mildew and we ate it. If you’re hungry, you’ll eat anything. Trust me.”

There were times when Greenbaum would recount eating leaves off of bushes during the Death March because there was simply nothing else given to the prisoners to eat.

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“I can’t even imagine having to starve the way that [Greenbaum] did in the Holocaust,” senior Abigail Palacios said. “It was horrible to hear about.”

Finally after months of marching, the war was declared over and Greenbaum and fellow marchers were left on the trail by the Nazi soldiers who had commanded them. Then, a tank appeared in front of them and two young soldiers stepped out, only to find Greenbaum and the fellow prisoners stopped near the trail.

“God sent us down an angel: an American tank came,” Greenbaum said. “They told us ‘We are Americans and you all are free.’ I still get goosebumps from that.”

Senior and National English Honor Society Co-President Abby Barnes introduced Greenbaum at the start of his presentation.

“It was such an honor to introduce a participant in such a crucial event in history,” Barnes said.

Greenbaum talked for about an hour before the auditorium was opened up to the audience for questions that ranged from how long his bullet wound took to heal to asking to see Greenbaum’s concentration camp tattoo. This was followed by a group of curious students huddling around Greenbaum as he pulled back his sleeve, revealing the numbers that had forever been etched into his skin.

“Having a first-hand account [from a Holocaust survivor] is an invaluable experience,” English teacher Kathleen Mathis said. “[Meet the Press] was a fantastic opportunity for our students.”

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Thien Mai, Copy Editor
Thien is one of the copy editors for the A-Blast. He enjoys playing tennis, rooting for the Nationals and supports the "under" philosophy when replacing toilet paper.

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Holocaust survivor speaks at AHS