Combined audiences of approximately 1500 people heard Holocaust survivor Henry Greenbaum tell of his harrowing experiences in the attempted Genocide of the Jews and other groups of people by the Nazis and their collaborators during World War II. Greenbaum spoke for almost an hour in the Randolph County Development Center November 15 and 16 without notes, telling his story, from the time the Nazis invaded his home in Poland in 1939 when he was 11, to the time of liberation by American forces in April of 1945.
He is the seventh in a series of Holocaust survivors made possible through a partnership between Black River Technical College and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D. C. Special funding support was provided by Mike and Barbara Dunn, by the BRTC Foundation SEAS Program, and by Bank of Pocahontas, IBERIABANK, and First National Bank of Pocahontas, Walnut Ridge, Hoxie and Bono.
Greenbaum experienced the hardships of life in a ghetto, work in hard labor camps, and eventual deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau. He lost his mother, three of his five sisters, and many other members of his family.
When allied troops were approaching, Greenbaum was sent on a “death march,” with the Nazis sending surviving prisoners on a grueling march away from the approaching allies. Finally he was transported by rail to unknown destinations. Liberation finally came when Nazis guarding the now nearly decimated fifty or so survivors of his group fled in the face of the American troops. Henry would call those American soldiers “angels,” a name he gives today to all U. S. military personnel.
He was eventually able to immigrate to this country where a sister had long lived. He found, much to his surprise, his older brother, who had more or less abandoned him during the Nazi onslaught into their home town, had somehow made his way to the United States, escaping most of the horrors of the war in Europe.
The presentation included two morning sessions and one evening presentation. In addition to members of the public and college staff and students, audience members included students from the Arkansas schools of Black Rock, Cave City, Nettleton, Pocahontas, Sloan-Hendrix, Walnut Ridge, Riverside, Crowley’s Ridge Academy, Highland, Hoxie, Mountain View, Nettleton, Paragould, Westside, Mammoth Spring, Corning, and Williams Baptist College, and the Missouri schools of Caruthersville, Gideon, Three Rivers Community College, and Neeleyville. Home-school students were also in attendance.
While here, Greenbaum and USHMM staff member Sara Campbell had opportunity to visit with students in BRTC’s Holocaust class, with BRTC faculty and with members of the BRTC Serendipity group. They also visited Black River Beads and the Wool Factory, and toured the Randolph County Heritage Museum, the Eddie Mae Herron Center, and the Wings of Honor Museum at the former Walnut Ridge Air Base. While there, they had lunch at the Parachute Inn and were thrilled with a chance meeting with eight U. S. Army airmen on a fueling stop in their four Apache helicopters. Both Greenbaum and the soldiers were mutually honored with the meeting.
“We are very pleased, once again, with the opportunity to bring a Holocaust survivor to this community,” said Dr. Jan Ziegler, VP for Development.
“The opportunity for our students to meet and speak with someone like Henry, to see the tattoo, to hear his own testimony about what happened, won’t be available for much longer. We could not do this without the support of our sponsors, and most certainly, we could not do this without the efforts and work of Project Specialist Dina Hufstedler. She deserves a great deal of credit for coordinating an event such as this.”