Florida Holocaust survivor recounts experience 75 years after Auschwitz liberation

Staff Writer
Walton Sun
Walton Sun

Norman Frajman was a teen when German soldiers stuffed him into a cattle car bound for servitude: He’d make bazookas for guards, toil in wooden clogs, forego socks and underpants and approach dehydration, spared only by sips of his urine.

They took his clothes, name and hair, said Frajman, who was freighted from the Warsaw ghetto to camps including Majdanek and Buchenwald. “Every nerve … in our body was in shock.”

It was a life worse than death, he said, an unforgiving accumulation of deprivation, pervasive thoughts, landscapes of ruthlessness and atrocity. Still, death knocked around him in all forms: starvation, gassing, illness, torture.

“A trip to the crematorium,” he said, was “almost an act of mercy.”

Frajman, 90, told his story Monday to about 50 people who joined at Eternal Light Memorial Gardens, west of Boynton, to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The date marks 75 years since the 1945 liberation of Auschwitz, a concentration camp in German-occupied Poland where more than 1.1 million people died.

Beth Ami Congregation’s Rabbi Joseph Fishof said Monday his father was sent there but left alive, helped by skills in machinery and engraving. As far as the totality of what people in the camps endured, Fishof said, “we still haven’t got this much of a clue.”

Gilbert Lachow, also in Monday’s crowd, said he made the last ship out of France in May 1942 before German soldiers hauled people from some camps to Auschwitz.

He was a 7-year-old kid when he first learned his family had to flee home, and spent time in camps including Rivesaltes. He and his baby brother faced freezing temperatures, one daily meal, bare floors.

“No beds, no bunks, no nothing,” he said.

Nearly a dozen in Monday’s crowd raised their hands to show they had at least one relative in the Holocaust. They lit thick blue candles as tributes and Frajman, who said his family alone lost 126 people, lit one to represent future hope.

Fishof earlier had called attention to recent acts of anti-Semitism, and Frajman voiced “fear for the future" as “hatred is growing.”

But Frajman encouraged remembrance, raising voices and a hope for peace.

He said history can repeat itself, but “not to us.”



This story originally published to palmbeachpost.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the new Gannett Media network.