Survivor Profiles: Ben Goldwater
I think people should learn what occurred so that history doesn’t repeat itself. And I think that’s the most important part of what we, the survivors, tell our audiences.
Ben Goldwater was born in December 1938, in Brussels, Belgium. He was living in Mons, Belgium when the war broke out in 1939. When the German army attacked the French and British armies, his family fled to France. The French government was not friendly to refugees, particularly Jewish refugees, so after several months, his family returned to Belgium, settling in Mons, near the French border. On May 10th, 1940, the Nazis occupied his town. Ben’s father joined the Belgian underground against the Nazi war effort.
Ben’s family lived under constant fear of denunciation as Jews. The family fled their home as they escaped the local Gestapo. Ben’s parents soon decided that they needed to protect him and his sister. Through his father’s underground contacts, Ben’s parents were able to secure a hiding place with a local family, whom they paid. Ben, age 3, and his sister lived in the attic in the family’s home for 14 months and were treated terribly. The family responsible for Ben and his sister often stole their food rations and eventually decided to turn them in to the Gestapo. Realizing the poor conditions their children were living under, Ben’s parents took him and his sister and left for Messire, Belgium. Ben’s family spent the remainder of the war living in Messire, Belgium under false identities.
Ben arrived in Chicago on his 11th Birthday in 1949. There, he enrolled in the fifth grade. Ben went on to attend high school in Chicago and college at Northwestern University. Ben met his wife Linda and had two children and two grandchildren.