Thursday, May 31, 2012

Remembering Eliezer Ayalon

Eliezer Ayalon, a Holocaust survivor who passed away earlier this week, was a lovely gentleman, always full of life and energy. A resident of Jerusalem, Eliezer shared his story with countless groups of all ages and backgrounds here at Yad Vashem and around the world. Every week, and sometimes every day, he volunteered to tell his remarkable story of survival as a young teenager during the Holocaust.    Born in Radom, Poland, in 1928, Eliezer was incarcerated in the ghetto in 1942 with his family. However, his family begged him to save himself. His mother told him, “If there is anyone in the family with a chance to stay alive – it’s you. Azoy ist Beshert [This was meant to be]. May you have a sweet life.” She accompanied him to the gate with a cup of honey. Eliezer was transferred to the Blizyn camp near Kielce, where he worked as a shoemaker. His mother, father, sister and two brothers were all murdered at Treblinka.

In the spring of 1944, Eliezer was moved to Plaszow, and then to Mauthausen and Melk in Austria. In April 1945, he was sent on a death march. Despite a previously broken leg, he made it to Ebensee. On 6 May 1945, the camp was liberated by American forces. “Soldiers from the Jewish Brigade took us from hell and prepared us for aliyah. I remember the joy, the dancing and the singing when we heard we had received visas for Eretz Israel.”

In 2010, Eliezer was one of the six torchlighters at the Holocaust Remembrance Day opening event at Yad Vashem.  We were privileged to know and work with him.  His smile and presence will be missed.

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