Photo: Yuval Chen
Holocaust survivor Pini Greenberger
Photo: Yuval Chen
Sharon with Greenberger
The friendship that aided Shoah survivors 60 years on
Survivor Pini Greenberger tells how his friendship with Ariel Sharon resulted in 60 million shekels in aid to those in need.

It's 1949. A young company commander approaches a soldier who remained alone in the base while everyone else had gone home for the weekend.



"From now on you're coming to my home every Friday," the officer informed his soldier. The soldier was Holocaust survivor Pini Greenberger and his commanding officer was future Prime Minister of Israel Ariel Sharon.


Sharon with Greenberger
Sharon with Greenberger


Just a few years before their meeting, Greenberger was locked in a desperate struggle for survival. "At the age of 15 they took us to Auschwitz," he remembered. "At the camp they took me away from my family and put me in a group of workers bound for Warsaw."


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Greenberger went from one concentration camp to another and was forced to take part in hard labor. After the war Greenberger made his way, alone, to the State of Israel and fought in the 1948 War of Independence.


Photo: Yuval Chen
Photo: Yuval Chen


He met Sharon on his base and took him up on his offer to share Shabbat together. "I went with him once out of curiosity to see what an Israeli home looks like. I received an extraordinary welcome there."


In 1953, as Greenberger waited at transport station in Afula, Sharon pulled up and offered him a ride. "He told me that he was forming a new unit, Unit 101, and asked that I come and help him the next day," said Greenberger.


"I told him that I was getting married in two days and wouldn't be able to make it. Sharon said to me, 'So come the day after the wedding,' and I did," said Greenberger.


After a few months, when Unit 101 was disbanded and Sharon was promoted to commander of Battalion 890 in the Paratroopers, Greenberg served beneath him as a company commander.


Their relationship endured. When they met in 2003, at a tribute to Unit 101, Sharon was already Prime Minister. Greenberger, who volunteers at The Foundation for the Benefit of the Holocaust Victims in Israel, took the opportunity.  


"I started a discussion with him about the condition of ageing Holocaust survivors. He was horrified. After a few days I received a notice from him that said that he ordered the Finance Minister to allocate 60 million shekels to help Holocaust survivors."


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