A Holocaust survivor welcomed a US army veteran to her suburban Detroit home on Monday and thanked him for taking part in the 1945 liberation of the German concentration camp where she was being held.
Sophie Tajch Klisman, 89, greeted Doug Harvey, now 95, with a hug and thanked the 95-year-old for taking part in the liberation of the Salzwedel camp, telling him: “You gave me my life”.
Mr Harvey said he couldn’t take credit “for the entire 15,000 guys” in his 84th Infantry Division, but Mrs Klisman replied: “But you were one of them … and I’m very fortunate to meet you”.
Mrs Klisman recalled: “They rolled in with tanks and came and opened the gates. And they were telling us: ‘The war is over. You are free, you survived’. So, that kind of feeling. We were barely alive. I mean, we were all like skeletons. A lot of the soldiers that looked at us, they cried.”
Mr Harvey, who lives not far away from Mrs Klisman, learned about her when he read a story in the Detroit News about her plan to return to Poland and Israel as part of the “From Holocaust to Independence” mission of the Friends of the Israel Defence Forces.
The two met in person after Mrs Klisman returned from the trip last week..
In addition to Salzwedel, Mrs Klisman, along with her sister Felicia, survived the Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps.
The sisters immigrated to the US in 1949, settling in the Detroit area. The rest of their family were killed during the war.
Surrounded by photos of her children and grandchildren, Mrs Klisman told Mr Harvey that he and his fellow soldiers “gave a lot of prisoners, the survivors, life”. “If it wouldn’t be for guys like him”, she said, she wouldn’t have her “beautiful family”.