Holocaust Survivor Brings Story to W&J

WASHINGTON, PA (October 21, 2013)—Holocaust survivor Henry Greenbaum will share his experiences at a lecture Monday, Oct. 21, at 6 p.m. in Washington & Jefferson College’s Dieter-Porter Life Sciences Building. The lecture, which is sponsored by the Washington & Jefferson College Hillel Society, is free and open to the public.

Greenbaum was born Chuna Grynbaum in Starachowice, Poland, on April 1, 1928. His father ran a tailor shop out of their home while his mother raised the family’s nine children.

As Germany invaded Poland, Greenbaum and his family escaped to a nearby farm to avoid the bombings that preceded the ground invasion of their town. While he and his brother David were out picking tomatoes on the farm, they came across a Polish soldier who was fleeing from the Germans. David decided to escape with the soldier but made Greenbaum go back home to their mother.           

When the family was forced to move into the Starachowice ghetto in 1940, Greenbaum and his sisters continued to work at the factory. The family remained together in the ghetto until October of 1942, when Henry’s mother and two of his sisters, along with their children, were deported to Treblinka and killed. Greenbaum and his three remaining sisters were selected to work in a nearby labor camp. Greenbaum helped produce springs in a factory while two of his sisters sewed uniforms in an SS tailor shop. His sisters died in the camp.     

In 1943, Greenbaum and his last remaining sister in the camp, Faige, tried to escape; Henry was shot in the head during the attempt. When he regained consciousness, he went to look for Faige and found a cousin who tended to his wound. It was not until the next morning’s roll call that he learned Faige had been killed in the escape attempt.

A year later, Greenbaum was deported to Auschwitz and incarcerated in the Buna-Monowitz subcamp, where the I.G. Farben Company owned a factory established for the purpose of producing synthetic rubber and fuel. As the Soviet army approached, Henry was evacuated to Flossenbürg, a concentration camp near the Czechoslovakian border. When American forces neared Flossenbürg a few months later, the prisoners were sent toward Dachau on a death march. Henry was liberated at Neunburg vorm Wald on April 25, 1945, by U.S. soldiers from the 11th Armored Division.

Greenbaum and his late wife, Shirley, settled in Bethesda, Maryland. They have four children, twelve grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

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