Only a handful of Holocaust survivors are still alive to tell their story, so it’s more important than ever to learn from their experiences.
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When Lily Ebert’s 16-year-old great-grandson asked her about the time she spent in Auschwitz as a teenager, she shared a memento she had never shown anyone else.
She produced a German banknote with “good luck and happiness” and “a start to a new life” written on the edges.
An American soldier, who was also Jewish, had given it to her after she was liberated from the concentration camp in 1945. The note was significant for many reasons, particularly because Lily had experienced so much abuse.
“He was the first person who was kind and wasn’t an enemy,” she told CNN.
Lily was just 14 when she was taken from her home in Hungary and forced to work day and night at Auschwitz, which she describes as “a factory of death.” Her mother, one of her sisters, and her brother were killed during their time there, while Lily and her other two sisters survived.
After two years of imprisonment, the war finally came to an end. Together with her sisters, Lily was forced on a death march when a group of American soldiers showed up to tell them they were free.
“We were liberated after a few days walking without food, without water, without shoes,” Lily said. “When they liberated us, we wanted only to get in somewhere, sit down, and sleep, and we were so hungry and thirsty. We were still afraid.”
That’s why the soldier’s banknote meant so much. He restored some of her faith in humanity, so she always kept his gift close to her heart.
Dov Forman, Lily’s great-grandson, was struck by the 90-year-old’s token and decided to track down the man from Lily’s story.
He shared the banknote on Twitter, joking that he would find the stranger within 24 hours. Amazingly, he was right!
The post went viral, and some online sleuths used hints from the banknote to track the man down. The “assistant to Chaplain Schachter” turned out to be Private Hyman Schulman of Brooklyn, New York.
Sadly, Hyman and his wife have both passed away, but his family agreed to meet with Lily and Dov virtually!
“It means so much that we can now connect with the family,” Lily said. It has certainly changed the way Hyman’s loved ones see him!
As difficult as it must be to relive her story, this is an incredible way to reconnect with the past. It just goes to show that no act of kindness is too small.
Check out their moving meeting in the video below, and don’t forget to share this story with your friends.
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