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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

His Name Was 171952

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
Fayerman told students how he avoided becoming one of those corpses. For a little extra food, he taught English to his barracks warden. But what really saved his life was his apprenticeship with his grandfather as a blacksmith. That's where he learned how to make tools, and Siemens Electronics needed good toolmakers, whether they were Jewish or not.

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 


not so casual observer said...

It IS happening again. this time to Christians in the Middle East
Slaughering the as they leave what few churches they have left and in Egypt tey set fre to the churches while the Christians are inside.

It IS happening agin, and no one is doing anything about it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Dottie, As bad as things are for th
e Coptic Christians, it's a good thing they aren't Jews.

c said...

Good story, why I keep coming back. Thanks Bernie.

not so casual observer said...


you are 100% right, my intent not to diminish the fate of the jews, but warn that
"here we go again" and the world should be screaming bloody murder about it, so we never, ever reach the heights of barbarism that was practiced during the the Third Reich.

Lighthouse said...

Bernie, while I usually do not comment on, I do enjoy your WWII posts about Vonnegut (read several of his books back in HS and college days 30plus years ago) and your dad. I likewise appreciated this post. FYI, if this is for the Press, I believe Doolittle supposed to be Dooley (though the former was in the news this past week from Dayton).

The comment, "German villagers, claiming they did not know. "How could they not know, with the smell of the bodies?" asked Monsignor (), who said you could smell it a mile away." I remember talking with the late Vince Vicari, who was on the Bethlehem Township Municipal Authority. He was an aid to Gen. McAuliffe at the Battle of the Bulge, and was instumental in pushing for BT's portion of Route 33 being named after McAuliffe (you can see the sign). I remember having a private conversation with him, and he recounted both his time at the Bulge and after, and going back to visit much later in life. His eyes, even in old age, still showed emotion as he recounted what he saw and the "smell" as they neared a camp. In the late 80s/early 90s, I also had a former POW, the grandfather of one of my students at the time, come in and speak to my classes, and he recounted, amongst other things he saw, the "smell".

It is not patronizing to say that those who went through this experience, regardless of the good or bad lives they may have lived afterwards, deserve our respect for their service and experiences.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Lighthouse, thanks for sharing those stories. I don't know why I kept referring to Monsignor Dooley as Doolittle, and appreciate you pointing this out. This story is for the BP, and I should be more careful.