A moving ‘reunion’ for descendants of Holocaust survivors

by Msnbctv news staff

WESTLAKE, Texas (AP) — Anna Salton Eisen discovered the previous photos — wallet-size, black-and-white pictures of Jewish prisoners who survived the Holocaust — in a folder her late father, George Lucius Salton, saved most of his life.

The Texas lady acknowledged the names of among the teenagers and younger males from tales her father instructed. For 3 years, the baby-faced captives lived among the many useless and dying in barracks and boxcars as Nazi captors moved them from Poland to France to Germany. The skeletal associates stated a tearful Kaddish — a Jewish prayer of mourning — after studying their mother and father had died within the fuel chambers.

However abruptly, the acquainted names had faces.

“Seeing the faces of all of them actually introduced the story to life,” stated Eisen, who found the images whereas shifting her mom, Ruth Salton, 99, from Florida to the Dallas space this previous summer season.

Eisen, 62, stated she felt compelled to study extra concerning the confidants who had meant a lot to her father, who died at age 88 in 2016.

George Salton was 17 when the U.S. Military liberated the Wobbelin focus camp in Germany on Could 2, 1945. Over the subsequent few years, the survivors scattered world wide. Most misplaced contact with one another.

However 76 years after American troopers lower down the barbed wire and fulfilled the prisoners’ inconceivable dream of freedom, Eisen got down to carry collectively the survivors’ family members.

As Eisen started her analysis, she relied on names written in pencil on the image backs or talked about repeatedly in Salton’s 2002 guide, “The twenty third Psalm: A Holocaust Memorial.”

As she combed by way of Nazi-era information, official paperwork, focus camp lists and postwar information saved on-line by way of the Arolsen Archives on the Worldwide Heart on Nazi Persecution in Germany, Eisen verified survivors’ names and dates of start.

Via Ancestry.com, she explored passenger lists of ships that took Holocaust survivors to different nations, Social Safety playing cards documenting title modifications, and obituaries and household timber.

Some assumed new identities as they made contemporary begins after the conflict. Eisen’s father was born as Lucek Salzman within the city of Tyczyn, Poland. However after the hazards he had confronted, he selected a much less Jewish-sounding title upon arrival in New York in 1947.

Google and Fb searches led Eisen to the youngsters and grandchildren of her father’s associates, most of whom by no means knew — till now — the total story of what their family members skilled.

Todd Nussen, a highschool historical past trainer in Oceanside, New York, reacted with shock — and pleasure — when Eisen texted him in late July to ask about his namesake grandfather, Tobias Nussen, who died at age 52 in 1973.

“Now I’ve particulars. Now I’ve details,” the 40-year-old educator stated.


On account of Eisen’s analysis, relations of eight Holocaust survivors met for the primary time on a current Sunday.

Some exchanged hugs and tears in individual at a New Jersey resort suite.

Others related by way of Zoom from Israel, Sweden and Texas.

“It simply gave me the chills,” Bobbie Ziff, 67, a resident of Jackson, New Jersey, stated of the emotional gathering, which got here collectively lower than 4 months after the images’ discovery.

Ziff is the daughter of Tobias Nussen and the aunt of Todd Nussen.

Her father constructed a brand new life in America and owned a luncheonette in Brooklyn, New York, Ziff stated. He by no means talked concerning the Holocaust, however he typically had nightmares and screamed in his sleep.

Eisen despatched Ziff a replica of Tobias Nussen’s picture in addition to his title in a tiny diary that belonged to Salton.

“It was simply loopy, loopy,” Ziff stated. “My solely remorse is that this didn’t occur whereas her father (Salton) was alive. I might have wished to talk to him.”

Pictured in one other of the images that Eisen discovered: Motek Hoffstetter.

His daughter Aviva Findler, a retired highschool trainer who lives in Tel Aviv, Israel, stated her father, like many different survivors, refused to speak concerning the Holocaust.

“Throughout the assembly, I came upon he was very revered by his associates, which made me actually proud and unhappy,” Findler stated. “Seeing all of us on Zoom made me marvel as soon as extra concerning the energy of life that enabled our fathers to start out households and life after all of the losses they suffered and what they witnessed.”

Likewise, Anna Schlachet, 69, a health care provider in Stockholm, stated her father, Moses Ziment, spoke little about his Holocaust expertise.

Nevertheless, he did inform her that “the remainder of the household was gassed to dying.”

“Sitting in a Zoom assembly with individuals I didn’t even know existed earlier than, and on the similar time understanding that we largely shared the identical historical past, was a really unusual and unreal expertise,” Schlachet stated.

One other of the survivors, Emil Ringel, additionally moved to the USA. Ringel and his spouse, Clara, launched Salton — Eisen’s father — to his future spouse, Ruth, whose personal Jewish household had fled Poland and labored in work camps in Siberia throughout World Conflict II. Ringel died at age 52 in 1979.

Daughter Barbara Ringel, of Queens, New York, relished assembly the youngsters and grandchildren of her father’s associates.

“That energy of spirit, that braveness, that resilience, that capacity to actually attempt to push one another to outlive — that was what characterised all of our dads,” Barbara Ringel stated.


For a lot of his life, Eisen’s personal father believed in conserving the previous previously. He most popular to deal with dwelling the American dream.

Fellow survivors did the identical, not eager to dwell on their rotten enamel or clarify why they refused to waste even a single piece of bread.

“It’s a wound,” Ruth Salton stated of what she and her husband of 63 years skilled rising up. “We didn’t need any of our youngsters to hold the stuff that we lived by way of. We thought, ‘It would damage them. We wish them to be completely satisfied.’”

George Salton proudly served in the identical U.S. Military that had rescued him. He earned levels in physics and electrical engineering. He labored in a high-level position on the Pentagon and held an government place within the aerospace trade.

However finally, his three kids — particularly Eisen, named after a grandmother she by no means knew — demanded solutions about his childhood.

That led to George, Ruth and the three grownup kids touring to Poland in 1998 to go to previous focus camps and ghettos, the remnants of synagogues and cemeteries all through the central European nation.

With Eisen’s assist, Salton recounted the main points of his household’s Holocaust expertise in his 2002 memoir.

“Daily blended with the subsequent, stuffed with starvation, sleepless nights, onerous labor and the fixed risk of beatings, alternatives, and executions,” he wrote.

The guide — and the New Jersey gathering — helped Miriam Kershner, daughter of Holocaust survivor Moses Tuchman, perceive her father in a method she by no means had, she stated.

“All of us felt so related by our mother and father, and all of us knew that our mother and father survived due to one another,” stated the retired trainer, 65, who lives in Marlboro, New Jersey.

“I felt like I knew her all my life,” Kershner stated of assembly Eisen. “We’re sisters from one other mom. Matter of reality, we’re going to get collectively once more.”


For her half, Eisen is writing a guide of her personal, “Pillar of Salt: A Daughter’s Life within the Shadow of the Holocaust,” which is due out subsequent April. She is cooperating with a filmmaker, Jacob Clever, on a documentary primarily based on her father’s expertise and its affect on the second era.

Eisen, a member of Congregation Beth Israel, a Reform Jewish group in Colleyville, Texas, stated the guide title displays her religion.

“I felt compelled to look again although I used to be warned to not,” she stated, referencing the biblical account of Lot’s spouse turning right into a pillar of salt. “I knew I risked being modified, however I needed to face the previous for the sake of my father.

“It was not simple for me to carry these different households the reality. It was painful. Nevertheless it was their story, and it belonged to them.”

It’s vital, she believes, for the youthful generations to maintain the truth of the Holocaust alive.

Aaron Eisen, Anna’s 30-year-old son and co-author of “Pillar of Salt,” voiced satisfaction in his mom’s efforts.

“My grandfather, when he would give speeches, would say that the Holocaust was incomprehensible, that we will’t comprehend how this occurred,” stated Aaron Eisen, who attended the New Jersey gathering. “However I believe over time we’re starting to grasp, and what my mom is speaking about, is that there’s nonetheless a lot to study. With the know-how and the archives, there’s nonetheless so many extra classes.”

As Ruth Salton approaches her one hundredth birthday, even she now understands the significance of telling the story, she stated.

“That’s the solely solution to stick with it,” she stated. “I’m so completely satisfied that the youngsters have an interest. The youngsters need to inform the story, and the youngsters can now dwell and really feel what we did really feel all our lives.”


Not all of Anna Eisen’s analysis had a cheerful ending.

One of many photos confirmed a younger man named Izok Rypp.

Izok — Yiddish for “Isaac” — survived 10 focus camps with George Salton and the others, apparently the one member of his household to flee the fuel chambers as Nazi Germany systematically killed 6 million European Jews.

However he by no means made it out of a displaced individuals camp in Germany after the prisoners’ liberation. He died at age 19 in July 1947, based on a dying certificates. No reason behind dying was given.

He was the identical age as Eisen’s father.

“He by no means had an opportunity to have a life or a household,” Eisen stated. “However his image and his story in my father’s guide have preserved his reminiscence and his story.”


Related Press faith protection receives help from the Lilly Endowment by way of The Dialog U.S. The AP is solely accountable for this content material.

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