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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:              HERSHEL GREENBLAT

INTERVIEWERS:      SARA GHITIS

LOCATION:                ATLANTA, GA

DATE:                         MAY 4, 2018

Transcript (PDF)

BIOGRAPHY

Hershel Greenblat was born in the Ukraine in 1941. The first year of his life was spent hiding in a cave with his parents. When the German invasion of the Soviet Union began, Hershel’s family moved frequently to avoid capture. Eventually, they settled in a city in eastern Ukraine under false identities and a younger sister was born. Herschel’s father was arrested by the Soviets around 1944 and spent the remainder of the war in prison.

At the end of World War II, Hershel’s father was released from prison and the family decided to flee Communist controlled Ukraine. Life for Hershel and his family changed dramatically when they arrived in the American controlled zone of Austria. For five years, they lived in displaced persons camps, where they began to resume a normal life and another sister was born. In 1950, they received permission to immigrate to the United States and settled in Atlanta, Georgia.

Herschel attended school and helped his father operate a small grocery store. After high school, Hershel began a career in retail management and sales. He married and had two sons. Today, Herschel devotes much of his time speaking to school children about his family’s experiences and teaching the lessons of tolerance he took from the Holocaust.

Scope of Interview:

The interview begins with Herschel’s recount of his parent’s lives until his birth. Herschel explains how his family hid in caves and cities in eastern Ukraine throughout the war. He recounts his family’s journey to American-controlled Austria after the war and life in DP camps. Herschel describes arriving in America and coming to Atlanta. He outlines his school years, meeting his wife and beginning his career. Herschel talks about his grandchildren and a trip to Israel. He reflects on why sharing his family’s experience is important to him.

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