As the survivors of the Holocaust age and pass away, the telling and remembering of their stories becomes ever more important. But one survivor of the same death camp where Anne Frank perished has another harrowing story of survival to tell. Writing at The Times of Israel, Allen G. Breed tells us about Judah Samet, who made it out of both Bergen-Belsen as a 6-year-old and the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting at the age of 80:
Sitting in the handicapped lane outside Tree of Life synagogue, Judah Samet watched as a plainclothes officer traded gunfire with the man at the temple door. He was caught in a crossfire and, yet, instead of ducking down, he craned his neck to get a glimpse of the gunman.
“The guy was very focused,” he said, pointing his finger like the barrel of a gun and mimicking the staccato clacking of semiautomatic fire. “I saw the smoke coming out of his [muzzle].”
The 80-year-old Hungarian native had come face to face with evil once before, in a Nazi concentration camp. He had cheated death then, and on this Sabbath morning, he had a feeling that God was not finished with him just yet...
Samet was just 6 years old in the spring of 1944 when the Nazis came to his house around noontime and told his family to pack. They were given 15 minutes to be outside “with our valuables and one change of underwear.”
Sitting in his sunny apartment in a jade-green building a few blocks from the synagogue, the retired jeweler recalled the long march to the trains...
They were supposed to be going to Auschwitz, but partisans had destroyed the rail lines. After several months of wandering, they arrived at Bergen-Belsen, the northern German camp where Anne Frank was an inmate.
“First thing we saw at the gate, there were about almost two stories of corpses, lying on top of each other,” he said. “They’d clear them away. Next day, again, they have the same.”
Weakened by starvation, the population was ravaged by disease.
“People were actually lying down and dying,” he said, “because they lost hope.”
Samet did not lie down...