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Group portrait of Jewish teenagers who came to Switzerland their liberation from Buchenwald.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 60741

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    Group portrait of Jewish teenagers who came to Switzerland their liberation from Buchenwald.
    Group portrait of Jewish teenagers who came to Switzerland their liberation from Buchenwald.

Among those pictured is Abraham Grajz.


    Group portrait of Jewish teenagers who came to Switzerland their liberation from Buchenwald.

    Among those pictured is Abraham Grajz.
    July 1945 - May 1946
    Lugano, [Ticino] Switzerland
    Variant Locale
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Abraham Greiz

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Abraham Greiz

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Abraham Greiz (born Abraham Grajz) is the son of Meir Wolf Grajz and Sara Kagan Grajz. He was born on October 25, 1929 in Rowno, Poland where his father had a hat making business. He had three older brothers, Shmulek (b. 1918), Jacob (b. 1924) and Shepsel (Shaptai) (b. 1926) and a younger sister, Chaya (b. 1935). Shortly after Chaya's birth, his family moved to Bialystok. His father was born in Russia, but despite early enthusiasm for the Revolution, he later fled the Soviet Union for Rovno. In the mid-1930s the Polish government, required that Russian-born citizens relocate farther west so that they would be less likely to spread revolutionary ideas. Since Meir already had business contacts in Bialystok, he decided to move his family there. Though the family was religious, Abraham attended a Yiddish speaking Bundist school as well as cheder. His older brother Jacob attended a Polish school. After the outbreak of World War II, Bialystok fell in the Soviet sector. Abraham's oldest brother Shmulek was drafted into the Soviet army. He was last heard from near Leningrad, but the family never learned what happened to him and whether he survived. After the Germans launched a surprise attack on the Soviet Union, they captured Bialystok and established a ghetto there in July 1941. Shortly thereafter, Abraham's younger sister Chaya passed away from natural causes. The rest of the family remained in the ghetto for the next two years; Meir continued to operate his hat factory, which now manufactured items for the Germans. His work protected the family from the first large-scale deportation in February 1943. However, on August 16, 1943 the Germans conducted another aktion to liquidate most of the remaining Jews in the ghetto. Most of the Jews were sent to their deaths in either Treblinka or Majdanek. Abraham's brother, Shepsel, was shot on the train to the extermination camp. He was cremated along with his parents, Meir and Sara Grajz, after his arrival. Abraham and Jacob escaped the initial dragnet and instead they were brought to a small ghetto in the Jewish gymnasium. There the Germans separated the men from the women and children. Abraham, who was fourteen years old, was selected to go with the children, but he knew his chances of survival were greater if he went with the able-bodied men so he managed to join his brother Jacob on the other side. On August 24 were sent to a labor camp in Majdek-Blizyn where they remained for one year. In August 1944, they were deported to Auschwitz. Abraham became separated from his older brother shortly after his arrival. At first Abraham was housed in Lager F, a research hospital, but after a Jewish doctor attested that he was strong enough to work, he was moved to Lager D. Among his jobs, Abraham was assigned to a group of teenagers tasked with removing the personal belongings of those who were killed. As Soviet troops approached Auschwitz in January 1945, the Germans evacuated the camp, and Abraham was sent on a death march towards Buchenwald. Abraham was liberated by the American army from Buchenwald on April 11, 1945. In addition to Abraham, the Americans discovered some 1000 child survivors. A Jewish chaplain, Rabbi Herschel Schachter, decided to make sure that these children receive proper care and arranged for them to go to children's homes in France and Switzerland. Abraham joined a transport of 280 orphans that left Buchenwald for Switzerland in August 1945 under the auspices of UNRRA and the JDC. He first went to a hospital in Basel for health examinations and recuperation. He then joined a hachshara near Lugano to prepare for immigration to Palestine. In May 1946 he left for Marseilles France in order to immigrate legally to Palestine with Youth Aliyah on board the Cairo. Abraham settled in Kibbutz Shvayim between Herzelia and Netanya. Since the end of the war, Abraham had not heard from any members of his immediate family. Then in 1947 he received a letter forwarded from a displaced persons' camp by the Jewish Agency saying that his brother Jacob was looking for him. Jacob had heard through a mutual friend that Abraham had survived but was incorrectly told that he had been sent to Sweden. He therefore had not been able to find him. The War of Independence broke out the following year. Abraham served in the Palmach, and Jacob immigrated to America. In 1953, Abraham received American immigration papers from his brother, and in July 1953 he went to Naples, Italy where he boarded the S.S. Constitution for the United States.
    Record last modified:
    2008-09-25 00:00:00
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