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IAmA holocaust survivor, selfie gym grandpa, AMA!

Jul 7th 2013 by donutdude • 20 Questions • 2015 Points

So yesterday I posted a selfie my grandpa took at the gym. A lot of you were interested in his story so I asked him if he’d be willing to do an AMA and he said yes over the phone on his way back from his favorite place to travel, Australia. Here’s the thread:

http://www.reddit.com/r/funny/comments/1hrn9c/i_found_this_picture_of_my_90_year_old_grandpa_on/

Here’s his speech in 2010 that he gave in Newark to a bunch of elementary school kids:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQe2riu1Oyg

Proof: http://imgur.com/isgsK8Y

Time for sleep. Thanks for all the questions! Feel free to send anymore questions and he'll look through them tomorrow. In the meantime, I highly suggest watching his speech posted above for a detailed version of his story

Q:

How old were you when you were in the labor camp?

A:

I was taken away when I was 20 years old. My sisters were 22 and 23. They both survived. My parents were 47 and 49-I never saw them again after they were taken.


Q:

If you could re-live one moment, what moment would it be?

A:

The day the war ended. It was at that moment I saw life continuing instead of ending. Without that moment I could not have married my wife!


Q:

I dunno, I found 5 bucks on the ground the other day.

EDIT: right, because a holocaust thread is no place for a little levity

A:

Humor serves as a great force to combat hatred.


Q:

Which concentration camp did you survive? Have you been back to the site since you left?

Edit: If you weren't in a camp, how did you shake the Nazis?

A:

I survived Dachau. I have never returned as I didn't want to re-live the memories.


Q:

When you left on the motorcycle, was it an easy way out or did you spend time hiding and running?

A:

It was not an easy escape by any means. I spent a long time running and hiding, but was eventually captured by the Russians. It is quite a long story that I describe in my speech.


Q:

Have movies like Shindler's List given an accurate portrayal of how the holocaust actually was?

A:

There is no picture that could truly convey the atrocities. It's an entirely different thing to experience it than to watch it over a screen. Factually many aspects of that movie are correct though.


Q:

Is it hard to watch those type of movies after all that you've experienced?

A:

Yes, it is difficult, but I think it's important the story be told so people are aware of the evil man has the capability of committing.

And while awareness is important, there is nothing more crucial than taking concrete action against bigotry and hatred no matter the race, religion or group of people being targeted.


Q:

What's the best piece of advice you've got? Could be about anything.

A:

Take advantage of all the positive aspects of life and try your best to ignore the negatives.


Q:

What technology is around today that you thought you'd never live to see? Or what technology has surprised you the most?

A:

I never in my wildest imagination thought I would be able to video with my grandchildren over the telephone. Truly remarkable. They spoke about this possibility at the worlds fair in the 1960's but I never thought I would see it happen.

Also witnessing what has occurred in the middle east because of the new forms communication has been shocking.


Q:

Thank you for taking the time to do this. My family also survived the holocaust. My questions are: how has your experience shaped the way you view religion/god, and how you live your life?

A:

It taught me the importance of surrounding yourself with people that will bring out the best in you. You never know what will happen and living in the moment, focusing on the positive aspects in life is extremely important.

I prefer not to answer any questions on religion or god.

If he knew Reddit, I think he'd be more inclined to answer questions on religion as they're pretty in line with most people here, I'd say.


Q:

Is he wearing the same shirt he was in the picture yesterday?

A:

Yeah it actually is. We didn't notice until after the fact. He loves Steve Jobs so maybe he's emulating him.


Q:

Amazing story, respect to you, sir. How often do you take selfies in the gym?

A:

I had just purchased the phone and was excited to use the camera feature. This was the first time.


Q:

How did you and your wife meet?

A:

We went on a blind date. My wife is American, but her parents were Hungarian and set us up. Here is a photograph a few years after we married.

http://imgur.com/09cs0aX


Q:

This is probably a stupid question but what kind of food did they give you?

A:

They would bring a big pot of soup once a day to the barracks. People would line up and when the soup was finished that was it-the people on the end of the line would not get food. On rare occastions we would be given bread.


Q:

This thread seems to be rather negative, staying on the concentration camp questions. To break this trend, what are a few of the best moments of your life? I mean, being a 90-year-old man, you've had a lot of time to live one hell of an awesome life.

EDIT: it seems like a lot of you missed the point of my question. He's been through a lot of shit, and yeah, he's obviously gonna have a lot of questions based on the holocaust, but at the same time this means he's also had a lot of amazing moments in his life that outshine it. If he has half the positivity as it seems he does, there has to be a reason to hold true to that positivity, and i wanted to know why.

A:

It is only natural for people to be curious about the negative components. As I have previously stated, I like to try and focus on the positive, so thank you for your question.

I have had a wonderful 60 year marriage 2 wonderful children and beautiful grandchildren. I have had the good fortune to travel the world, and make wonderful friends in the US and many other countries.


Q:

I think your attitude and perspective is inspiring, thank you for taking the time to speak with us! What was your favorite place to travel to and why?

A:

It is hard to pick a favorite. Two remain at the forefront of my mind. The Amazon had the most incredible scenery and atmosphere.

Australia-such warm and friendly people and so scenic, the great barrier reef especially.


Q:

For you, what were some of the keys to such a long-lasting marriage? Six decades is something to be incredibly proud of.

A:

Thank you. The ability to really listen to my wife's concerns and consider her feelings when we have a difference of opinion. Respect is also very important. Of course tolerance to your partner's " occasionally annoying habits " .


Q:

Have you ever forgiven the Nazis for what they did?

A:

I'm not sure I ever received an apology. They were the cause of the one of the greatest human tragedies in all of human history, so that would difficult.

Over 60 million people were killed in the war-Jews, Russians, the mentally ill, gays, Americans, and countless, countless others.


Q:

Thank you for doing this AmA.

As a gay man, I am curious about how they were treated in the camps. There isn't much information out there concerning gays in the camps other than that they wore an upside down pink triangle. Did you see or know any? Were they treated with contempt by fellow prisoners because of their sexuality?

Thank you.

A:

If there was any suspicious of homosexuality, they were killed instantly and did not even make it to the camps. I don't recollect seeing anybody wearing pink triangles, but this could very well be due to the fact they had already been exterminated.

We all felt so beaten down, like walking zombies. Relationships between prisoners of any kind, good or bad were few and far between.


Q:

It probably too late but I have to ask this question. As part of the generation that saw (and in your case experienced) the atrocities committed under the third reich, are you concerned that the lessons learned will be lost in the next 25-50 years? At some point in the near future there won't be anyone around with a first hand account and the powerful conversations described in this thread (as well as the thread itself) won't be possible.

A:

It is my deepest hope that with technologies like reddit and youtube first hand accounts will still live on even when all the survivors have passed on.