SIEGFRIED HALBREICH: Holocau$t® $urvivor
Branded No. 68233, he survived four Nazi extermination camps
By ELAINE WOO
Los Angeles Times Saturday, 1 November 2008
http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/ ... 8249.story
LOS ANGELES — Siegfried Halbreich, [alleged] survivor of four
Nazi concentration camps who devoted the second half of
his long life to public education about the horrors that Jews
experienced during World War II, has died of heart failure at
his Beverly Hills home, aged 98.
Halbreich was among the first Jews to be sent to the camps
in 1939. Five-and-a-half years later, he was one of the few
to emerge alive. “Very few people were imprisoned as long and
in as many prisons as he was,” said John Roth, a Holocaust®
scholar and emeritus professor at Claremont McKenna College.
Halbreich said he did not enjoy talking about “the horrible past”
but felt obliged to inform and warn people of the Nazi campaign
of extermination so that it would never happened again.
Born in Dziedzice in what is now southern Poland, he had a
degree from the University of Krakow and worked as pharmacist
until the war began. In 1939, after Germany occupied Poland,
he tried to escape to what was then Yugoslavia, but was
caught and deported to the Sachsenhausen camp in Berlin.
Assigned to ‘death camp’ hospital
In 1941, he was transferred to the Gross-Rosen camp, and a
year later, he was sent to Auschwitz where, because of his
pharmacy training, he was assigned to work in the camp
Secretly he led resistance efforts; he sheltered younger
prisoners, gave them food and medicine and helped many
escape the brutality of their captors. Halbreich had been
at Nordhausen-Dora, a (conscripted) labor camp in central
Germany, for a year when it was liberated by Allied forces
in April 1945.
After the war, Halbreich, who spoke several languages,
worked with the US Government’s war crimes branch as an
interpreter and investigator. He gave evidence at the trials
of (so-called) Nazi war criminals, including Adolf Eichmann,
the senior Nazi who was abducted by Israeli agents from
Argentina and hanged in Israel for his role in the Holocaust®.
In 1946, he emigrated to the US and spent the next 13 years
in Cleveland, where he met his wife, Ruth, and started a
family. In 1959 he resettled in California and ran a custom picture-framing business in Santa Monica.
Couldn’t stop telling his tale
In 1960, after a visit to Israel, his rabbi asked him to give a
talk about the Holocau$t®. Halbreich agreed to tell his story —
and then kept telling it again and again for the next 45 years.
He spoke of losing his parents and both his brothers; of seeing
Jews treated worse than cattle on trains bound for the
[legendary] gas chambers; of a Nazi commander who sent
Jews to hard labor or death with a flick of a thumb; of fellow
prisoners shot dead for no reason other than they turned their
heads at the wrong moment.
He recalled how one day after liberation, while serving as an
interpreter for General Dwight Eisenhower, the Allied supreme
commander noticed the “68233″ that the Nazis had engraved
in his skin and asked, “Did it hurt you very much … ?”
Halbreich was stunned and didn’t know what to say. He
thought, “My gosh, what kind of people are the Americans?
They see what’s going on here, full of bodies, dead people …
and he asked if this was hurting?
“But later on, I understood, he had no idea.”
In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son and a daughter,
and two grandchildren.*
http://www.theage.com.au/world/branded- ... -5fj7.html
*Presumably, they will now also become “$urvivor$.”