Meeting Nate Nothman: Holocost survivor

Nate Nothman was speaking to a school group and they were late. I had just arrived at the Holocost museum & while I was getting my bearings, he introduced himself. We were standing near a wall that was inscribed with the number of dead in each country: Poland=3 million, USSR=1.5 million… 6 million in total. Nate turns to me & says, “How can anyone deny that the Holocost happened? Send them to me & I will tell them my story & then they will believe!” Then he insisted that I sit in with the class and hear his story.

Nate grew up in Krakow, Poland & lived there with his family. He was 14 in 1937 when the Nazis surrounded his town with electrified fencing and it became a ghetto. Able bodied people were used for labor and every few days, trains would come by to take the less able to the camps.

He was eventually separated from his parents & brother and sent to a work camp. When Berlin was bombed, he was part of a work crew that dug through the rubble to locate Germans who had survived. On the train back to the work camp, he made his escape.

Nate had concealed a small hammer that he used to break the lock on the door of the cattle car. Then, he stuck his arm out and lifted up the lever to open the door. He & 4 other young men leapt from the train- 1 man dashed his head on a rock & died. The rest spent the entire winter in the forests of Czechoslovakia, hiding.

Nearly 6 months later, Nate happened upon a group of American soldiers who offered him a job as a translator. Nate speaks 5 languages. After the war, he was able to come to the United States. There was 1 last hurdle to overcome; the plane had an engine catch fire and forced an emergency landing in Iceland! There was nothing to be done- so they continued to NYC, where they were greeted on the runway be the fire department, who extinguished the flames with a soapy spray. Nate was relieved that God didn't bring him safely through the Holocost just to have him die in a fiery plane crash!

Nate was cracking jokes and teasing the students throughout his talk. He cherishes his family & told everyone to make sure to hug their parents every chance you get! I sure will! He was a delight! This July, Nate turns 90 years young! He was quite pleased that we guessed he was 82! Thanks for a BIG dose of inspiration, Nate!

 

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