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Sol Lurie's unbelievable tale - Went back to Germany in 1952, miraculously stumbled upon chain and good luck charm he lost during WWII




Sol Lurie



Sol says he spend five years in six different concentration camps in Europe. The Germans tried their best to exterminate him, but he just had too many miracles come his way.

He claims that a German killed his cousin's baby by tossing it in the air and catching it on a bayonet (reincarnation of World War One "bayoneting babies" propaganda?), and that he hid from the Germans in a pile of human excrement from an outhouse.

He and other Jews were taken to Auschwitz- Birkenau "where they should have been sprayed with gas but only water came out." Lurie says it was "a miracle."

Now get this. Sol eventually came to America and joined the U.S. Army. During the Korean war (in 1952), he was stationed in Germany. "One night as he laid down his sleeping bag in a field, he felt a tree branch poking through; the branch held the chain and good luck charm he had lost during the transport between concentration camps"! Another miracle!


Holocaust survivor speaks of concentration camps

Linwood Middle School honors persecution victims


BY JENNIFER AMATO Staff Writer
April 30, 2009
North Brunswick Sentinel

NORTH BRUNSWICK — "Remember to take action, and remember to remember."

The closing remarks of Linwood Middle School's Holocaust Remembrance Evening April 23 summed up the theme of the night.

Students and teachers from Linwood, along with township officials, recognized the commemoration of the Holocaust through songs, speeches, a prayer, a candle lighting and a proclamation.

The keynote speech was made by Sol Lurie, a Holocaust survivor who spent five years in six different concentration camps in Europe before being liberated by Americans in 1945.

Lurie was born on April 11, 1930, in Lithuania, but on June 20, 1941, he began 1,388 days of a "nightmare" before being freed April 11, 1945. He said one night his family was told to pack their belongings and wound up in a synagogue for three days.

There were 28,000 Jewish people kept in an area of two square miles surrounded by barbed-wire fences, and each family only got one room to stay in. They would only get 8 ounces of bread per week and lived in starvation.

"We weren't Jews no more. We weren't humans no more. We were animals. But we weren't treated like animals … we were like insects," he said.

In October 1941, Lurie said that the prisoners were assembled in a field and from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. had to march back and forth in front of German soldiers. He said 9,200 people, 4,200 of whom were children, were separated into two sections and the people on the right side were ordered to dig ditches. As they did so, the soldiers shot at them so they fell into the ditches. The next day, Lurie said soldiers made the rest of the people bury the bodies, and then they, too, were killed.

"One man escaped … and said the earth was still moving because people were still alive," Lurie said.


In one instance, Lurie's father tried to protect Lurie, his cousin and his cousin's baby by hiding them in an underground hole in a stable. However, when Lurie's cousin moved hay off the hole because she was wheezing from asthma, German soldiers saw her and took her baby and swung it around on the tip of their bayonet, killing it.

Lurie took this opportunity to try to escape, and eventually ran out the back of the stable, hopped a fence and hid in the waste pile of an outhouse. He said when he got home, despite his appearance and smell, his mother embraced him because she had thought he had been killed.

"There's nothing like a mother and a father," Lurie said about the appreciation children should have for their parents.

Then, in 1944, Lurie said that only about 1,500 of the original 28,000 Jews he was with were alive. They were put into cattle cars and transported to a different camp and were eventually kept with French prisoners of war. They were then taken to Auschwitz- Birkenau in Poland where they should have been sprayed with gas but only water came out from what Lurie called "a miracle."

In December of that year, the Holocaust victims were then put into a "death march" during a cold winter, wearing only striped pajamas and wooden shoes. After a night resting in a barn, anyone who did not wake up to continue walking was burned alive inside the barn. This left only 23 boys in Lurie's group who continued on.

In April 1945 Lurie said they finally heard American tanks getting closer to their camp. He was finally freed, but he said that the food provided by the Americans killed about 10,000 people as a result of dysentery. He survived again and was eventually reunited with extended family in the United States. He later found out that his mother was killed, and without giving specific details, Lurie said he was allowed to see his father during a special visit in 1968 while the rest of the family was held hostage overseas to ensure his father's return.

Proud to be in the United States and wanting to protect his new homeland, Lurie fought to be included in the draft for the Korean War, but was shipped to Germany instead of Korea because he could speak German. This was a blessing in disguise, because one night as he laid down his sleeping bag in a field, he felt a tree branch poking through; the branch held the chain and good luck charm he had lost during the transport between concentration camps.

He also said he felt a sense of pride in going back to Germany.

"I said, 'You wanted to annihilate this little Jew, but I'm back as an American soldier, a proud American soldier,' " he said.

When he moved from Brooklyn, N.Y., to Monroe, he found out that one of his neighbors was on the first American tank to liberate his group. Although his neighbor cries every time he sees Lurie, Lurie has been very open about his experiences and speaks to students in order to spread his message of hope and determination, and to encourage youth to be accepting and tolerant.

"Not all Germans were bad. I don't hate all Germans. I only hate the Germans that were bad and killed innocent people," he said. "I hope one day we're going to have peace in the world and not hate."


Contact Jennifer Amato at [email protected]

Article #1: "Holocaust survivor speaks of concentration camps"
[ Archived source: https://archive.centraljersey.com/2009/04/30/holocaust-survivor-speaks-of-concentration-camps/ ]




Earlier version of Sol's tale...

This earlier (contradictory) version of Sol's tale claims he only spent four years in concentration camps, and that all 10,000 Jews were shot at one time in the Ghetto in October of 1941 after digging ditches (not half of the group one day and the other half the next day as in the other version).


Holocaust memories live on 60 years later

A youth spent in German concentration camps left an indelible mark


BY KATHY CHANG, Staff Writer
June 8, 2006
East Brunswick Sentinel

Last year at the age of 76, Sol Lurie finally summoned up the courage to go back to the "living hell" of his youth - the concentration camps where he spent four years during the Holocaust.

"It was not easy," he said. "I remember I wished that I was a German shepherd because dogs were treated better than us."

He was known as B 2858 then. The letter B stood for Birkenau, the concentration camp where the Nazis tattooed the black number on his left forearm.

And it was only four years ago that Lurie was finally able to relive those days. The memories were too painful.

"I couldn't tell my children," he said. "It was not until my granddaughter [Samantha Sokol] asked me to speak to her sixth-grade class about the Holocaust."

Lurie was one of 42 Middlesex County Holocaust survivors honored with lifetime achievement awards at Middlesex County College recently.

Lurie went back to Birkenau with his wife and daughter last year to visit the site of the brutal days of his youth. He was 12 when he arrived there.

The three trudged along the path of "The March of the Living" in Poland. The trail was the scene of prisoner "death marches" during the war.

When Germany's military force collapsed near the end of the war, the Allied armies closed in on the Nazi concentration camps. The Germans began to frantically move the prisoners out of the camps near the front and take them to be used as forced laborers in camps inside Germany.

Prisoners were forced to march long distances in bitter cold, with little or no food, water or rest. Those who could not keep up were shot.

"We were walking on the cobblestones, and I didn't have comfortable shoes on," Lurie recalled of his visit last year. "I decided to walk on the sidewalk. One of the people started yelling to get off the sidewalk. I said, 'Listen, 60 years ago I was on this death march against my will. Today, I'm here on my free will and I can walk wherever I want.' "

The group of Holocaust survivors and their families applauded him.

Lurie has made it his mission to tell his story at area schools.

"I teach the children to stand up against racism, hate and bullies," he said. "I teach them to be self-thinkers. The Holocaust was the past; now it is the future."

When Lurie moved to Monroe 10 years ago, he discovered that one of the men who liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp where Lurie ended up lived five houses away from him.

"When I began telling my story, I asked him if he wanted to also tell his story," he said. "He came with me once, but when the people started asking him questions, he broke down and cried. That was it for him."

The four years that Lurie spent in concentration camps left their mark.

"Years after I was liberated, I hid food and still kept a packed suitcase ready to go under my bed," he said. "I am up early and I am very alert because that was the way you had to be to survive."

Lurie was the youngest of four brothers born in Kovno, Lithuania, which is now known as Kaunas, on April 11, 1930.

"Life at the time was good," said Lurie. "My father had a lumber business with 70 people working for him."

Lurie remembers the day the Germans invaded the Soviet Union's territory on June 22, 1941.

"It was a clear Saturday," he said. "My family started to run on foot to get to the Russian border. After 20 miles or so we stopped to rest, and the next day we would continue on."

They never made it to the border.

"The Germans had already started to occupy the towns," said Lurie.

The Germans ordered all the Jews to assemble in the town's synagogue.

"We stayed in the synagogue for a couple of days," said Lurie. "Then they told the Jews who were not part of the town to go back where you came from."

So the Luries packed up what they had and started to head back to Kovno.

"We were stopped by a German soldier," he said. "He said that the Lithuanians would kill anyone who would continue walking, so we listened to him."

Lurie learned later that the Lithuanians had set the synagogue that they had stayed at on fire and burned the remaining Jews who were left behind.

On July 10, 1941, the Germans ordered all Jews to move to Slobodka, on the other side of the city, where the Kovno ghetto was.

"Life was hard," Lurie said. "It was two square miles long with 68,000 Jews in it. Barbed wire was all around with a watch tower."

On Oct. 28, 1941, the Germans began experimenting with mass murder in the ghetto.

"They assembled the ghetto and started picking out people," said Lurie. "They picked out 10,000 men, women and children."

The Germans forced the Jews to dig two fortresses. The people were ordered to undress and lie down in the ditches.

"Then they shot all 10,000 people," said Lurie. "People were still alive. The earth was still moving."


Lurie was 12 when the Nazis came for him and his family, one bleak day in 1942.

"The Germans couldn't use children, so they just killed them," said Lurie. "I found out that my parents had made me older because I looked younger than I was."

The Luries stayed in stables with the horses. Lurie's father decided to hide the children [Sol, his cousin, and her 7-month-old son, and two other cousins] in the stable's holes, which were used to store food in the winter. The holes were covered by wheat and hay.

"My cousin had asthma, so she had trouble breathing and she started to wheeze," said Lurie. "As the Germans were coming into the stable, my cousin lifted up the lid to get air."

The Germans saw the lid open and close. When the Germans opened the lid, the 7-month-old baby cried.

"They took the baby and threw him up in the air," Lurie said. "And caught the baby with their bayonet and was twirling him around."


Lurie's cousins were killed.

Lurie ran to the next stable, hid in a bin and covered himself with hay.

When the Germans realized he was missing, they started to poke around with their bayonets.

"My older brother was in the stable cleaning," said Lurie. "He warned me."

Lurie ran and jumped over the fence to the outhouse, he jumped in the hole and covered himself in waste.

"They ran after me and looked in the outhouse, but didn't see me," he said. "I waited until it was dark to come out."

When Lurie emerged and walked back into the stable, Lurie's mother hugged and kissed him.

"My mother didn't care that I was covered in waste," he said. "Her love was irreplaceable."

In 1944, the Germans evacuated men, women, and children to the concentration camp Struthof in Poland. The Germans separated the women with younger children and men with older children.

"My father wanted and got me to be with him and my three brothers," said Lurie. "We were sent to the concentration camp Landsberg in Germany."

Lurie was only in Landsberg for three weeks before the Germans took all the children to the concentration camp Dachau in Germany.

He was alone.

The children were then sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland. Lurie was there for four months. It was there he received his no. B 2858 on his left forearm on August 1, 1944.

At Birkenau, the Germans realized they weren't killing people fast enough, said Lurie.

"They started piling up people by putting wood on top, and then people, and then wood, and then people," said Lurie. "Then they would burn them."


As the Soviets edged closer to Auschwitz-Birkenau in December of 1944, the Germans began to destroy the camp.

Lurie made a pact with himself that he would outlive Hitler and survive to tell the whole world.

"This is how I kept on going," he said.

On Jan. 22, they were put on a train and sent to the concentration camp Buchenwald in Germany.

"We were put with Russian prisoners," said Lurie. "It was a lot warmer with extra food."

Lurie was part of Block 66 at Buchenwald. Allied armies closed in on the Nazi concentration camps at the end of March and early April. The Soviets approached from the east, and the British, French, and Americans from the west.

On the afternoon of April 11, 1945, Lurie looked out through a crack in Buchenwald.

"I saw tanks and they came to the gate," said Lurie. "They were American tanks [US General George Patton's Third Army] and they liberated us."

In a couple of weeks, the boys were taken out of the camp and put in the German barracks.

"We were actually treated like human beings," said Lurie. "The boys who found their parents left, but for the most part we were orphans with no where to go."

The French government took in the 522 younger boys from Buchenwald to the OSE [orphanage]. The group included Elie Wiesel, who wrote the book Night about his experiences in the war.

"We had doctors check us when we came to France," said Lurie. "The doctor said that we should all be sent to mental hospitals. He thought we would never become of anything because of what we went through."

One day, the Red Cross came and asked the boys if anybody had family in the United States, said Lurie.

"I remembered that my father had brothers and sisters who lived in New York," said Lurie.

It took two years for Lurie's cousin to bring him to the United States.

He arrived on April 15, 1947, and stayed with his aunt and uncle.

A year after liberation, Lurie found out that his father and three brothers had survived and were liberated from the Dachau concentration camp.

His mother's side of the family were all killed.

"I found out my mother wouldn't leave my niece alone; she gave up her life for her niece," said Lurie. "My father and three brothers had gone back to Kovno, but they were stuck there until 1972 because of the Soviet Union."

Lurie joined the United States Army in October 1952 and after basic training in Fort Dix was sent to Germany.

"I went back to hell, but this time, I was a proud American soldier," said Lurie. "I got my American citizenship papers in Frankfurt, Germany."

Lurie was in the Army until October 1954. He went to night school, received his high school diploma and won a scholarship to Harvard University.

"I couldn't go because after I was discharged, I had to work," said Lurie.

Sol Lurie never did make it to college. But on May 16, Middlesex County College made the dream of getting a college diploma possible.

"It was one of the greatest moments in my life," he said."

He lost his first wife to cancer in 1993. He remarried in 1994.

"Raja was married to my friend, who had passed away a year before my wife," said Lurie. "We grew close."

Now Lurie has three children, two step-children and four grandchildren.

In 2003, Lurie attended the tenth anniversary of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.

"I met Jack Lowin, number B 2856," he said. "I found out he lived three blocks away from me in Lithuania, but I didn't know him. Only 2 percent of Jews in Lithuania survived, and I met one of them 58 years later."


Article #2: "Holocaust memories live on 60 years later"


Note: use http://www.archive.org/ to find articles if original links no longer work

 




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