“In the center of this photo is my amazing grandfather, whose family left Poland for New York when he was ten years old. At 21, he was drafted into the Army where he fought in every major battle of World War II – with the exception of D-Day. His service included a trip to Austria, where his unit liberated the concentration camp, Ebensee. My grandfather was able to use his mother-tongue of Yiddish to communicate with the prisoners, and find out what the camp was and how they could help.
To my Grandfather’s left and right are Grace and Ira Kalfus, the children of an Ebensee survivor named Chaim. Their father experienced unspeakable horror, and the unimaginable loss of his entire family. He worked hard at the camp, and survived the hellish conditions there that many did not. Both Chaim and my Grandfather were 23 years old at liberation, and both originally from Poland – yet found themselves in vastly different positions during the war. Unfortunately, Chaim passed away just last year at the age of 94, but his heroic legacy lives on in his wonderful children and their families.
Needless to say it was an emotional meeting, but a truly incredible one as well – one that I don’t think any of us will ever forget. We don’t know what would have happened if my Great-Grandparents had stayed in Europe, or if the Army wasn’t successful in defeating Germany. But I thank G-d every day that we never have to find out, and that my Grandfather was able to to help save countless future generations of the Jewish people, and then go on to create our own beautiful family. We are so truly blessed.” – Bryana Toran