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About Henry Greenbaum 1

Henry Greenbaum (Chuna Grynbaum)...

On the 4th of September 2015, I visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC. As I entered this museum, I was invited to take an Identification Card of a real person, Austrian Johann (Hansi) Stojka, who had endured the persecution of the holocaust. I read it as I walked through the building and noticed that he had been liberated near Roetz on the 24th of April 1945 (two days before I was born). I found a member of staff and was about to ask her if Johann was still alive, but then noticed that she was standing next to a desk where a man was sitting. This gentleman was Henry Greenbaum, another real person, who was a survivor of the holocaust. Henry explained to me that it was not only in the museum that he could demonstrate that it was real people who had been caught up in the holocaust, but he also lectured on it in other forums, such as schools. I spoke with him at length about his experiences and those of his family and he showed me his assigned number tattooed on his arm. Before I left, he gave me a personalised copy of his Museum Identification Card and a signed copy of his experiences. It was a personal privilege to have met him. This is Chuna's story: Henry Greenbaum was born Chuna Grynbaum in Starachowice, Poland, on April 1, 1928. His father, Nuchem, ran a tailor shop out of their home while his mother, Gittel, raised the family’s nine children. Before 1939, Henry enjoyed a typical childhood, attending public and religious schools and playing soccer with other children. However, in the summer of 1939, rumours of an impending German invasion were rife. Having heard that factory jobs might offer some protection, Henry’s father arranged for Henry and three of his sisters to work in the munitions factory, but soon after this his father passed away. Two months later, Germany invaded Poland and Henry and his family escaped to a nearby farm to avoid the bombings that preceded the ground invasion of their town. While Henry and his brother David were out picking tomatoes on the farm, they came across a Polish soldier who was fleeing from the Germans. David decided to escape with the soldier, but made Henry go back home to their mother.When the family was forced to move into the Starachowice ghetto in 1940, Henry and his sisters continued to work at the factory. The family remained together in the ghetto until October 1942, when Henry’s mother and two of his sisters, along with their children, were deported to Treblinka where they were subsequently killed. Henry and his three remaining sisters were selected to work in a nearby labour camp. Henry’s other sister, Dina, had previously immigrated to the United States in 1937. Henry helped produce springs in a factory while his sisters sewed uniforms in an SS tailor shop. His sisters Chaja and Yita died in the camp. In 1943, he and his last remaining sister in the camp, Faige, tried to escape; Henry was shot in the head during the attempt. When he regained consciousness, he went to look for Faige and found a female cousin who tended to his wound. It was not until the next morning’s roll call that he learned Faige had been killed in the escape attempt.In 1944, Henry was deported to Auschwitz and incarcerated in the Buna-Monowitz subcamp, where the I.G. Farben Company owned a factory established for the purpose of producing synthetic rubber and fuel. As the Soviet army approached, Henry was evacuated to Flossenbürg, a concentration camp near to the Czechoslovakian border. When American forces neared Flossenbürg a few months later, the prisoners were sent toward Dachau on a death march. Henry was liberated at Neunburg vorm Wald on April 25, 1945, by US soldiers from the 11th Armoured Division. So his normalised life began again on the very day that I was born - April 26th 1945.

Henry Greenbaum born Chuna Grynbaum

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