Six Holocaust survivors, representing the six million victims, will light the torches in memory of people who did not survive at the hands of the Nazis.
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Sima Hochman (on behalf of her recently deceased husband, Peretz)
Peretz "Pavel" Hochman was born in 1927 in Warsaw, the fourth of eight brothers. With the establishment of the Warsaw ghetto, his older brothers were left outside the ghetto, where they pretended to be Christians, and the parents, Hochman and his younger brother, Zankek, were left inside.
Peretz Hochman (Photo: Yisrael Hedri)
As the situation worsened, the two brothers left the ghetto, pretending to be Christians. They survived by singing on the streets, and selling cigarettes and newspapers in Three Crosses Square in the city. Most of their customers were Germans, among them SS officers.
Their father Benjamin died of starvation in the ghetto and their mother, Miriam was shot to death in the summer of 1942. Peretz and Zanek joined the Polish underground on the eve of the uprising and after the war Peretz received one of the highest badges of distinction from the Polish army. He immigrated to Israel in 1946 and fought in the War of Independence. Last week, Peretz Hochman passed away, and his wife will light the torch in his honor.
Otto Dov Fersberger: One of the first Jews in Auschwitz
Born in Trnava, Czechoslovakia in 1923, he, his father and big brother Julius were sent to Auschwitz in April 1942. His father died there just three weeks later. His brother Lachi was sent to Majdanek and killed and his mother and grandmother were also killed. The last time Otto saw Julius was in a selection line. His brother Aldar, the latter's wife and daughter were brought to Auschwitz in July 1943 and were all killed by SS officers.
Otto Fersberger (Photo: Yisael Hedri, courtesy of Yad Vashem)
When Auschwitz was evacuated on January 18, 1945, Otto was put on a train with Polish prisoners headed for Austria. He jumped, played dead and found a safe haven in the home of Czech peasants until the end of the war. In 1947 he boarded the "Theodor Herzl" ship and made his way to Israel and built a family.
Dina Ostrover: The sole survivor in her family
Dina Ostrover was born in 1923 in Stryi, Ukraine by the name of Donia Pickholtz. In the beginning of 1942 she and her family were placed in the ghetto and in October of the same year, her family was found and placed on a train headed for the Belzec extermination camp. On the way, Donia's father told her to jump, so that at least one member of the family would be saved. Broken-hearted, she returned to the ghetto to live with her aunt and uncle.
Dina Ostrover (Photo: Yisael Hedri, courtesy of Yad Vashem)
Fluent in Ukranian and equipped with a falsified Ukranian birth certificate, Donia found a job as a worker at an inn for German officers not far from Stryi. She, along with another employee even hid a Jewish couple for 13 months above the German restroom there.
Upon returning to Stryi, she discovered that no one in her family survived and Donia asked to immigrate to Israel. After a year in a displacement camp, a year in Italy and eight months in a Cypriot prisoner camp, she met Joseph Ostrover and the two moved to Israel to start anew.
Eliezer Eisenschmidt: Survived Sonderkommando Revolt
Eliezer Eisenschmidt was born in 1920 in Lunna, Belarus. In 1942, he and his entire family were sent to Auschwitz. His entire family was killed there and Eliezer was made to join the Sonderkommando in which its members threw corpses on railway cars and burning pits. While working as an electrician in crematorium five, the group members created hand grenades in his room to be used in the Sonderkommando Revolt which began in October 1944.
Eliezer Eisenschmidt (Photo: Yisael Hedri, courtesy of Yad Vashem)
All members of the revolt were killed and Eliezer was questioned but remained silent about the details. On January 18, 1945, Eliezer was taken out of Auschwitz for the death march to Germany. He escaped the march even before leaving Poland but was shot and injured in his leg. He hid his blood trails and hid in the fields. In September 1945 he married Yehudit, a survivor herself and the two immigrated to Israel.
Miriam Liftsher: Became infertile due to Dr. Mengele
Miriam Liftsher was born in 1933 in Krakow, Poland under the name Manya Wagman. With the German occupation, her family moved to the town of Proshovitza. Miriam and her brother Joseph posed as Aryans. She her father and brother took a train to Krakow and smuggled food into the ghetto. A Polish acquaintance told a German officer of their activities and Manya went to jail. That was the last time she saw her family.
Miriam Liftsher (Photo: Yisael Hedri, courtesy of Yad Vashem)
In May 1942, she was taken to Auschwitz. Obtaining rice from Yugosloavian prisoners, she managed to nurse dysentery-ridden women back to health. In 1944, she was placed in the hands of Dr. Josef Mengele whose experiments caused her to become infertile. In January 1945 she began the death march to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. She was released in April 1945 and discovered that her immediate family was gone. She arrived on an agricultural farm and met Rudy Liftsher, also a survivor. They immigrated to Israel in 1947 and adopted their daughter in 1963.
Baruch Kopold: Fought with Tuvia Bielski's partisans
Baruch Kopold was born in Iwje, Belarus in 1923. In June 1941 the Germans occupied the city and he was sent off to hard labor. He and his family were later sent to the Lida Ghetto where his father convinced him to leave and join the partisans. Baruch and seven of his friends cut the ghetto fences, swam across the frozen river and into the forests. They encountered the partisans but were turned away since they had no weapons.
Baruch Kopold (Photo: Yisael Hedri, courtesy of Yad Vashem)
They were later accepted into Tuvia Bielski's partisan brigade. When the Red Army freed the area, Baruch returned to Iwje where he discovered that his entire family was killed in Majdanek.
He then tried to reach Romania in order to immigrate to Israel but was caught and sent to a Soviet labor camp.
A friend helped him flee and at the end of the war he returned to Poland and joined an Aliya training group. He led Jews through Czechoslovakia, Austria and the Alps to Italy by foot and the group ascended the "Dov Hoz" ship in May, 1946 to Israel.