Holocaust Survivor Gives Thanks to Man Who Rescued Him

November 27, 2013 / by Raquel Royers

What a wonderful story, especially right before a day of giving thanks. After almost 70 years, a Holocaust survivor has been reunited with the man who secretly sheltered him and his family during World War II—saving their lives. This shows that one decision can make a huge impact.

Survivor Leon Gersten, 79, was reunited with his rescuer, Czeslaw Polziec, Wednesday afternoon at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Both have not seen each other since they were small boys around the age of 10-years-old. When they first saw each other, words were not needed, only embrace.


Holocaust survivor is reunited with rescuerPhoto Courtesy of CNN--AP Photo by Seth Wenig 

As a boy, Gersten hid for two years with his mother and family in the attic of the Polziec’s barn.  Gersten was 8 and Polziec was 10. Although the Polziec’s had barely enough means to feed their own family, they still took them in and provided food.

This story is a MUST READ. I highly encourage you to continue on and read the original and follow the link to the entire story. This story truly shows that one decision can change lives, impact others, and make a difference.

Posted by Moni Basu, CNN 

(CNN) - Leon Gersten could not bear to watch “Schindler’s List,” the movie about Czech industrialist Oskar Schindler who saved 1,200 Jews from Nazi extermination camps. It was too painful for the Holocaust survivor, too close to reality.

But now, almost 70 years after his village in Poland was liberated by the Soviet army, Gersten is meeting the man who is the Oskar Schindler of his own life: Czeslaw Polziec.

Like Schindler, Polziec is Catholic. His family secretly sheltered Gersten in rural Poland for two years during World War II.

As though such a reunion between survivor and rescuer were not emotional enough, this one is taking place Wednesday on the eve of Hanukkah, which coincides this year with Thanksgiving. Two celebrations of gratitude.

Gersten, 79, had tried to imagine how he might feel when he would finally meet his Polish friend at John F. Kennedy International Airport. He said only this: “I think it will be a physical reaction.”

And it was. The two men embraced. Then, they embraced again.

"Hi, hi, hi," Polziec said, his English limited to just a few words.

But words seemed useless now anyway. For Gersten, none seemed adequate for a man who saved his life. A man who had, through his actions, given him precious assurance there was goodness left in a world that seemed purely evil.

“I am alive because of them,” Gersten said of Polziec and his family. “They are heroes.” 

[Original: Giving thanks for the miracle of survival]

Topics: Our Thought Bubbles, News

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