|Monsignor Dooley shares pictures of Holocaust survivors|
That number was intended to dehumanize 17 year old Severin Fayerman. It was tattooed onto his left arm on his first day at Auschwitz. He had committed the crime of being a Jew, a capital offense in Nazi Germany. He now considers it a badge of honor. Fayerman is one of the lucky few who survived not just Auschitz, but other German concentration camps in which Hitler's Final Solution was being imposed with ruthless efficiency. Rescued by American GIs, Fayerman eventually made his way to America where, armed with $20, he became the founder of Baldwin Hardware.
A small and gentle man whose quick smile belies the horrors he witnessed, Fayerman mesmerized Bethlehem Catholic High School students with his story at their Veterans' Day breakfast. But before he spoke, students heard from Monsignor Joe Dooley, who was one of those liberating GIs, though with a different group of Jews.
Upon reaching the ghostly survivors at a death camp, one asked for a cigarette. Just one puff killed him. No more cigarettes were offered.
"Wir wussten nicht," shouted German villagers, claiming they did not know. "How could they not know, with the smell of the bodies?" asked Monsignor Dooley, who said you could smell it a mile away.
Soldiers made sure the villagers knew. They loaded each corpse onto a stretcher, and paraded them through town, with villagers lined up and forced to witness what the Supermen had done.
|Severn Fayerman's plea: Let this never happen again|
Though still a prisoner, Fayerman worked inside a factory near Berlin, until it was bombed by the British. From there, he was taken to another camp, which was firebombed by Americans. In yet another camp, Fayerman watched as American planes came by to strafe the guards while leaving prisoners untouched. From there, he and other Jews were marched to a quarry, where Germans with machine guns encircled them from above until darkness descended. With the daylight, the Germans were gone.
Fayerman intercepted Americans on their way to the North Sea to stop German D-bombs. As a displaced person, he was able to relocate to the United States and found a company whose hardware is in the White House and Governor's Mansion.
"This is the only place in the world where this could be possible," Fayerman said of the United States. He currently resides in Reading, and has written a book about his life called, "A Survivor's Story."
"When I came to this country, all I wanted to do was forget," explains the Holocaust survivor. "I speak because I feel it is my duty to pass on to new generations that this should never happen again.”
Fayerman was born in Poland, which before Hitler was home to over 3 million Jews. There are 20,000 left today.
|Michele Koch and Gail Ziegler, with the VA, received $1,000 raised by Becahi students|
|Marine vet Frank Scott with son Sterling and wife Valerie|