A personal message written on a German banknote 75 years ago to a Holocaust survivor has set in motion an extraordinary search for the family of its author – an American soldier who helped liberate her from a death march.
Auschwitz survivor Lily Ebert, 96, found the item while going through her possessions with her great-grandson, who is helping to document and record her story.
After the discovery, Dov Forman, 16, wrote on Twitter: “Yesterday my great-grandma showed me this bank note – given to her as a gift by a soldier who liberated her. Inscribed, it says “a start to a new life. Good luck and happiness”. Later on, she met up with those who freed her”.
His post was retweeted by the Auschwitz Museum’s account to its 1 million followers, before it was shared widely, being retweeted a further two thousand times and receiving 14.5 thousand ‘likes’.
Yesterday my great Grandma (Lily Ebert – an Auschwitz survivor) showed me this bank note- given to her as a gift by a soldier who liberated her. Inscribed, it says “a start to a new life. Good luck and happiness”. Later on, she met up with those who freed her (third photo). pic.twitter.com/LAx2ZGFCnH
— Dov Forman (@DovForman) July 5, 2020
Thanks to responses from around the world, the teenager found out that the note, currency issued by the US ahead of the occupation of defeated Germany, was given to his great-grandmother by Private Hayman Shulman from New Jersey.
He was an American soldier and assistant to Rabbi Herschel Schacter, who was the first US Army Chaplain to participate in the liberation of Buchenwald concentration in April 1945, and he passed away seven years ago.
Speaking to Jewish News, Forman said “recently I have been getting more involved in learning as much as possible about my great-grandma’s story because I feel like it is now a race against time to learn it in depth before it becomes my – and the rest of my family’s responsibility – to become her witness.”
He added he is trying to get in touch with the soldier’s family to set up a virtual meeting with his son or daughter.
Dov thanked other social media users for the “love that people were sending my great-grandma” saying it “almost brought us – including her – to tears.”
“Lily was speechless when I told her that in one day I had managed to find the soldier that liberated her, with the help of Twitter.”
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