Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Jewish Holocaust Survivor's Tale

FREEDOM PASS: Berger sits next to the passport issued to him in Italy in 1946 that allowed him to flee to England and then to the United States. In June of 1950, he arrived at Union Station in Los Angeles.

Sol Berger, a Polish Jew, survived World War II by assuming other identities. At 89, he's returned to his authentic self.

In his 89 years, Sol Berger has gone by many names.

He started life in Poland as Salomon Berger, then became Jan Jerzowski. Then he was Ivan Marianowicz Jerzowski, then Shlomo Harari, then Sol.

During World War II and its aftermath, the names kept him safe, protected him from the concentration camps and eventually allowed him to seek refuge in the United States.

But the names also forced Berger, a young Jew, to live in constant fear as he assumed identities that included a Polish partisan fighter and a Russian lieutenant. With each name, and each life story he had to remember, a little more of the real man was kept hidden.

After the war he settled in Los Angeles and began to build a new life, this time as Sol Berger. For decades he never spoke about what he endured as Jan, Ivan and Shlomo.

But as Berger came to discover, those identities, though fake, were an integral part of his life story. And to honor the memory of parents and siblings who died in the war, he had to tell the world how and why he came by so many names.

The article recounts Berger's identities and some of his experiences as each alias, plus what he's been up to lately. As they say, go and read the rest. Take your time, it's four pages long, but well worth the read.

And we have people who say this sort of thing didn't really happen.

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