Sunday, January 24, 2010

Jack "Yakov" Werber

Surviving boys leave Buchenwald, accompanied by American soldiers and directed by elements of the camp underground who watch over them, including Polish Jews Yakov Werber and Eli Grinbaum (right with beret).

The son of a Polish furrier, Werber was sent to the Nazi slave labor camp at Buchenwald during World War II. He was a barracks clerk and heard from a new arrival that the Nazis had killed his wife and his 3-year-old daughter. He felt he had nothing to live for, until a short time later when a trainload of 2,000 new prisoners arrived -- including many young boys. Thoughts of his wife and daughter "drove me in my obsession to save children," he said later. Rather than let the boys be shipped off to death camps, he was able to hide most of the boys in the barracks he was responsible for. It was August 1944, and many of the guards knew the end of the war was near. They kept quiet about the scheme when they found out and, fearing war crimes trials told him, "Remember that I did this for you." More than 700 of the children survived. Werber knew the odds: he himself had arrived at the camp with around 3,200 other men; only he and 10 others of that group survived the camp.After the war Werber emigrated to the United States, where he started a manufacturing business. He died in New York on November 18 from a heart attack at 92.
Two young child survivors on board the SS Mataroa display their tattooed arms.

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