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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

Oldest living Holocaust survivor in Memphis recounts atrocities

Thursday marked Holocaust Remembrance Day.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Israel is remembering the greatest calamity to fall on Jewish people, the Holocaust.

During that period nearly 6 million Jews lost their lives.

Thursday marked Holocaust Remembrance Day, 101-year-old survivor Sam Weinreich, shared the horrific events he lived through.

"A guy came on a bicycle said woke everybody up the German army will be here tomorrow morning," said Weinreich.

Weinreich is from Lodz, Poland and one of nine children. He and his family were forced to leave their homes and designated to one room in a ghetto.

"There was hunger because that little ration you got every two weeks you got a meager ration," explained Weinreich . "You could not survive on that ration."

The little food they were given was only enough for about three days.  

"I saw people hold food in their mouths, they were afraid to swallow because they wouldn't have it anymore. In the Lodz ghetto my mother died from hunger."

Weinreich's 13-year-old sister and older brother also died of starvation.

In 1944 - he went to Auschwitz.

He later left Poland after the Germans told Sam he would receive more food in Germany.

In one concentration camp Weinreich's jobs included carting dead bodies. He also visited doctors in their tents, singing to them for an extra piece of bread - which helped him when he had typhus.

At one point he was beaten for picking up a carrot from the ground.

"He knocked seven teeth out of my mouth because of picking up something on the road," said Weinreich. "I could not eat anymore whatever they served."

In 1945, at the end of World War II, the Germans evacuated the camp, and prisoners were forced from trains when bombs began falling. Weinreich and another man hid in the forest for two days before encountering an American soldier.

"When the solider turned around I noticed on the lapel an American flag. I knew then that we were already saved." 

Weinreich married fellow survivor Frieda Gola Weinreich the following year. 

In sharing his story Weinreich honors the lives lost and aims to keep atrocities like the Holocaust from happening again.