Survivor Profiles: Eric Blaustein
The truth is, I don't want to be a Holocaust survivor by definition. I'm an American citizen. I experienced something horrible, but otherwise, I want to live like any other American… But on the other hand, knowing about the Holocaust, will show people what can happen, if you play with anti-anything.
Eric was 6 years old in 1933 when the Nazi party entered his town of Chemnitz in Saxony (Eastern Germany). He was from a middle class family, and things remained normal for them until 1938. His family stayed in Germany, and in 1940, Eric’s father joined the Underground in another city.
At age 15, Eric became a grave digger. Soon after, he went into open hiding – using papers that said he was a Hitler Youth. He was arrested in September of 1944, as a suspected deserter of the German Army. He confessed that he was Jewish, and not a German solider, and was immediately sent to Buchenwald.
Upon entering Buchenwald, he swapped identities with an Italian inmate who had died, leaving behind his identity as Eric Blaustein and becoming a man named Luigi. He served as a laborer in the camp for five months, until he was liberated from a satellite camp of Buchenwald.
His entire family had survived the Holocaust. In 1948, he moved to Israel and fought in the War of Independence. This is also where he met his wife.
Eric came to the United States in 1954 and now lives near his daughter and grandchildren in Lombard, IL.
Learn More:Coffee with a survivor facebook live session Podcast interview Oral history about experience in Israel
Photo credits: Zachor – The Holocaust Memory Project