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Holocaust survivor Miri Amir was reunited with Miroslawa Gruszczynska, the woman whose family hid her from the Nazis in Poland during World War II. The reunion took place on Tuesday, 29 Nissan 5777. Amir hadn’t seen Gruszczynska in nearly 30 years, since the Gruszczynska family was awarded the title “Righteous Among the Nations” by Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.
The reunion took place in Krakow at the opening dinner for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) “From Holocaust to Independence” delegation to Poland and Israel. Speaking at the dinner was IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-General Gadi Eizenkott. Also joining the delegation are 40 US supporters of FIDF, Holocaust survivors from the United States and Israel, and IDF soldiers and officers.
Chaired by FIDF National Vice President Robert Cohen, who founded FIDF’s Washington, D.C., and the Mid-Atlantic chapters, the 10-day “From Holocaust to Independence” mission is spanning Jewish history, from its darkest moments to its most triumphant. Israeli soldiers and Holocaust survivors are accompanying the FIDF supporters on a trip across Poland, starting in Krakow, once home to more than 60,000 Jews; tracing the community’s steps from the city’s ghetto to the Buczyna Forest, where the Nazis executed more than 800 children; and the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camps.
The entire delegation will then fly on an Israeli Air Force (IAF) transport jet from Poland to Israel, where they will visit IDF bases, commemorate Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror, and celebrate Israel’s 69th Independence Day.
“This historic delegation will trace the modern history of the Jewish people through the eyes of Holocaust survivors and IDF officers,” said FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir. “It will tell the story of our near-extinction in Europe, the creation of a Jewish homeland, and the new generation of Jewish defenders of the Jewish people who safeguard our legacy today. Marching together into the dreadful Auschwitz-Birkenau camps with IDF soldiers and the survivors who somehow endured that torture sends a powerful message to the world that we remember, and that the Holocaust cannot and will not ever happen again. ‘Never again’ is not a platitude; it is our people’s solemn promise.”
“This mission is one of the last opportunities for these survivors to return to Auschwitz and tell of its horrors,” said Cohen. “It will be a rollercoaster emotional experience for everyone involved. We’ll be passing through the gates of hell, ignoring the false promise that ‘work will set you free,’ where countless Jews suffered from unimaginable cold, hunger, and despair. We’ll be surrounded by those who survived within the camps’ walls, and also by those who make sure they are not forgotten – the brave soldiers who protect their legacy: The State of Israel and the Jewish Diaspora around the world.”
Photo: (From left) Miroslawa Gruszczynska; IDF Chief Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkott; Holocaust survivor Miri Amir; and FIDF National Director and CEO Maj.-Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)