A sad reality is that Holocaust Survivors are rapidly disappearing
from the United States. Reports vary as to the exact number of
Shoah Survivors. The Jerusalem Post, however,
reported on January 27, 2018, that 100,000 Holocaust Survivors were
living in the United States. On March 8, 2022, the Atlanta
Jewish Times reported that the U.S. count of Holocaust
Survivors had fallen to 50,000. According to the same story, this
was confirmed by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against
Moreover, many are in dire straits. Blue Card, a charity that
provides aid to needy Survivors, estimates that more than 210,000
Survivors receive assistance worldwide. It is also disturbing to
learn that most Holocaust Survivors received only a few hundred
dollars of restitution. That's it.
A second finding of the Claims Conferences was that "37 percent of
Holocaust Survivors live below the poverty line set by the United
States government," a figure that has remained the same for years.
Some believe that as many as two-thirds of Holocaust Survivors live
in poverty around the world, but this seems to have been confirmed
by other sources. It is such a tragedy.
But this is not what this story is about. This
article is largely dedicated to Survivors who became
philanthropists after achieving substantial wealth. The good news
is that there are still some around today. They consider giving
back to be one of life's most important goals. Obviously, it
depends on the cause.
A feature story on March 25, 2021, in
The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, is
illustrative of a Survivor who moved on to amass considerable
wealth, but when he arrived in this country felt he needed to give
back because he was spared. They reported that "Henri Landwirth was
arrested in Belgium at age 13. Henri spent the next five years in
Nazi death and labor camps, including Auschwitz. Late in the
war, he was taken into the woods to be shot. But his two
German guards, with the fighting so close to an end, let him live.
Run, they said. And he did."
Like so many of his peers, Henri was penniless when he arrived on
these golden shores. He eventually made a name for himself in the
hotel industry and became a rich philanthropist who supported the
needy. In a related story, he said: "I promised myself that one
day, God willing, I would be able to help other people not to
suffer as much as I did."
Lisa Landwirth Ullman, his daughter, summarized it best. "Somehow
he felt like God spared his life," Ullmann said, "and he really
needed to give back to the world, helping those in need — and also,
in the process, healing himself."
Hilda Eisen and Harry Eisen
Hilda Eisen and Harry Eisen lived to the ripe old ages of 100 and
95, respectively. They immigrated to the U.S. in 1948 from Poland
and, like so many other Survivors of WWII, spoke no English and
were completely destitute.
As reported by the Los
Hilda had joined the Jewish Resistance after convincing a Nazi
guard to unlock the Lublin ghetto gate and then
In the Nazi death camps, however, she lost both her parents and six
siblings. Harry managed to survive Auschwitz, where the Nazis
forced him to work in a coal mine.
They settled in Norco, a city in Riverside County, California,
where they raised chickens. It wasn't long before they started
selling eggs in their neighborhood.
According to a December 7, 2017 article in Los Angeles'
Jewish Journal, "Norco Ranch Inc. in western
Riverside County became one of the state's leading egg producers,
processors and distributors. By 2000, when the Eisens sold Norco
Ranch Inc. to Missouri-based Moark, it had a staff of about 450
people and a list of major customers that included the Ralphs
division of Kroger, the Vons division of Safeway, Albertson's,
Costco, Trader Joe's and Jack-in-the-Box… Until 2005, it was the
largest egg producer west of the Mississippi."
Because of their good fortune, the Eisens were determined to give
back. They founded and ran The Lodzer Organization of Southern
California. It involved Holocaust Survivors who donated generously
to local causes and Israel. When Hilda reached 99, she even donated
an ambulance to Magen David Adom.
Their daughter Fran Miller, in an interview with the
Times, said: "They were able to take their grief
and become very philanthropic about it and very Zionistic and
very into giving back. They felt fortunate to be on the giving end
of charity rather than the receiving end."
Sari and Abe Baron
Most Survivors did not become independently wealthy but felt it was
their mission in life to give back. One such example was Sari
Baron, OBM, a community leader and warmhearted humanitarian in
Fairfield, Connecticut. She was also my mother-in-law; the dearest
extended family anyone could ever be blessed with.
After putting down roots with her husband Abe following the war,
she served on many boards and volunteered for numerous
not-for-profit organizations. Among them included HIAS, ORT, Jewish
Family Services of Bridgeport, Congregation Ahavath Achim in
Fairfield, Bridgeport Jewish Community Center, UJA Federation of
Bridgeport, the Jewish National Fund, Meals-on-Wheels, and the
Jewish Home for the Elderly. She also helped raise millions of
dollars for Israel Bonds and other organizations. She did all this
while also ministering as a devoted wife, a loving mother,
grandmother and great-grandmother.
My father-in-law, Abe Baron, OBM, also gave back in other ways. He
suffered through 5 1/2 years of sheer terror in five concentration
camps, including Auschwitz, Majdanek and Buchenwald, where he was
liberated. How he survived is beyond comprehension, yet he
He lectured about the Shoah in Jewish Community Centers, middle
schools, high schools, colleges, organizations of all kinds, Yom
HaShoah programs and more. Stories about the Shoah were important
to him, and he wanted them preserved for future
A community-minded volunteer and the husband of a very active
volunteer force in the community, my mother-in-law, he dedicated
himself to acts of kindness. Without fanfare or ceremony, he
accomplished what he set out to do. He once replaced the carpet in
the local synagogue on his own dime. He also donated his time,
materials, and labor. If a school or an organization needed a
volunteer to make an event happen, he raised his hand and offered
his services with a smile.
Survivor Philanthropists Among Us
There are Holocaust Survivors all around the world that have
enriched societies with their thankfulness for having survived.
Here are just a handful. There are, of course, many
1. Marcel Adams in Canada, who was the second oldest billionaire at
2. George Soros, the Hungarian hedge fund mogul, estimated charity
donations at $32 billion.
3. Edward Mosberg, a major supporter of the March of the
4. Sol Teichman, an Auschwitz Survivor, made his fortune as a store
display manufacturer. He was the recipient of countless awards from
major Jewish charities for his generosity and leadership
5. Dov Landau, a volunteer from Poland for Names, Not
Numbers, is an Auschwitz Survivor who gives endlessly to teach
future generations the lessons of the Holocaust.
Heroes actor Robert Clary, himself a Survivor,
helped to interview 75 Survivors for the Shoah Foundation and gave
greatly to the world through his entertainment skills.
7. Roman Blum, born in Chelm, died at age 92 with an immense
fortune of $40 million by some estimates, but with no
Unfortunately, time is no longer on their side, as their numbers
are decreasing. While we must be respectful of them, we also
realize that many wish to leave a meaningful legacy behind. And
time is of the essence. Keep this in mind if you are a
It is said that "The life you lead… is the lesson you teach."
Considering the brutality and the horrors of war that Survivors
suffered through, this adage is indeed fitting for the many who
gave and are today still giving back to humanity. Their many
selfless acts of love, kindness and philanthropy embody authentic
gratitude for being spared.
Norman B. Gildin. All rights reserved.