"When the doors of the cattle car opened we found ourselves at another work camp...we were assigned numbers, which from that moment replaced our names in yet another act of humiliation. My number was 648; Mother's was 255."
This passage is an excerpt from Luna's Life A Journey of Forgiveness and Triumph, written by Holocaust survivor Luna Kaufman.
The Wreaths Across America Escort to Arlington in 2015 stopped at Liberty State Park, New Jersey to lay a wreath at the base of the Liberation Monument, where we met Luna Kaufman, who played a crucial organizational role in the construction of the monument.
"It's so important for the children, the future generations, to know the history," states Kaufman. "When Rapoport [sculptor] was asked why he was building the statue he told them it's so people will know the Army didn't come in just to kill people, the Army came to rescue people."
"We always felt this triangle in New York Harbor was symbolic with Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty and the Liberation Monument," Kaufman recalls. "Ellis Island was the shelter for people to come from Europe to escape the tyranny and prejudice. To see the Statue of Liberty was so poignant, and then when the time came, and human rights were in trouble the American soldiers went back to Europe to help and liberate the people. We always thought it was a perfect triangle completing the circle."
It's that liberation Wreaths Across America will remember and honor on Saturday, July 23rd when Kaufman joins us to tag a remembrance tree in honor of the "liberators."
Kaufman will place replica dog tags to honor her father, Marek Fuss, who died in Auschwitz in 1943, her sister Blanka Fuss who she lost in Stutthof in 1945, father-in-law Isidor Kaufman, mother-in-law Bronia Kaufman, and sister-In-law Irena Kaufman, all who perished in 1942 in Janowska.
Kaufman will also honor the memory of her liberators, Army Captain Jack Coulston with the 602nd Tank Destroyer Batallion the first to liberate Ohrduf concentration camp, and Army Private Clement Piscitello of the 4th Infantry Division who managed to scoop up sand when landing on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, which he later gifted to Kaufman.
Kaufman will be handing over many historical items and documents to the custody of the Wreaths Across America Museum when she visits. Some of those artifacts are also contained in a time capsule in the base of the Liberation Monument to be opened in 2035.