CHERRY HILL, N.J. - Nearly 8 decades after the end of the Holocaust, survivors continue to tell their stories. One South Jersey man's story--which he recently told to some young students--will now lead to a reunion 80 years in the making.
"I was crying, I was really. I was really crying. I didn't know what was happening."
92-year-old Holocaust survivor Fred Behrend was talking to middle school students at the Politz Day School in Cherry Hill on November 9 about growing up in Nazi Germany and mentioned the name of a schoolmate. That's when the school director suddenly left the room returning and handing him a cell phone.
"He says to me, his exact words were, 'There's somebody on the who who wants to talk to you,'" Hehrend said.
Never in a million years did Behrend, who now lives in Voorhees, New Jersey, imagine that the person on the other end of the phone was his German childhood friend Henry Baum who is a retired Detroit school principal
"It was very emotional as you can imagine because this to the day 80 years November 9, 1938 was the last time I saw him," Behrend said.
That date was the beginning of the two day Kristallnacht also known as the 'Night of Broken Glass'. The two were 12 year olds in Cologne, Germany, and Nazi storm troopers had set fire to the synagogues and the boy's school.
When Behrend arrived home that day, his mother explained the gravity of the situation.
"She told me that my father that the storm troopers had arrested my father with pistol's drawn," he explained.
Behrend's father was taken to a concentration camp, but was released. The family escaped to Cuba before coming to America. The 92-year-old always wondered what happened to his friend.
Thanks to Politz's Head of School Rabbi Avraham Glustein who put the the pieces together through a family connection these two friends will soon be reunited.
They will reunite next month.