COLUMBUS, Ga. – A Holocaust survivor shares his story at Columbus State University Thursday night. It’s part of a two-day workshop for teachers presented by the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust.
Hershel Greenblat has lived in Atlanta for most of his life, but he spent the first few years under harsh conditions while trying to escape Nazi rule.
His parents met when their underground resistance groups came together.
“Their hiding places were in the caves of Ukraine,” he said.
His parents got married and Greenblat was born a year later.
“My existence for the first year and a half of my life was in the caves of Ukraine,” he said.
They escaped to a town further east. His father was put in a Russian prison camp in 1943 after stealing food.
“My sister Ann was actually born a month later so for the next two and a half years my mother kept us alive and she still kept fighting and hiding taking odd jobs as a seamstress,” Greenblat said.
His father was released in 1945.
“My father decided that Communism was not going to be any better than being ruled by the Nazis so we escaped,” he said.
Their destination was an American zone of Austria. It took them nine weeks to get there.
“No food. Malnutrition. Whatever close we had on our backs,” he said.
The family spent the next few years in Displacement Camps. They to America in 1950 and Greenblat’s father opened a grocery store in Atlanta a few years later.
“A gentleman walks into my fathers store and introduces himself. That was in late 1963. This gentleman and my dad became very close friends, Dr. King,” he said.
However, his grandparents endured a different fate.
“They took innocent people. Lined them up and shot them in the back of the head and as they fell into the trench, they would line up another group and they would fall on top of them,” Greenblat said.
Greenblat continues to share his story to students and teachers.
“I’m 76-years-old and still one of the youngest speakers so, eventually we’re not going to be here so, this is why we do this,” he said.
The two day workshop at CSU continues Friday.