On May 5, 1945, US soldiers liberated the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria, ending a nightmare that began for Marsha Kreuzman nearly six years before. Kreuzman and her family were forced into the Krakow ghetto in 1939, when she was in her teens; the next year, her mother was taken to a concentration camp and killed.
Kreuzman herself went to a labor camp, then to Auschwitz, then Bergen-Belsen, then Flossenbürg, then Mauthausen. Along the way she saw her father shot, and lost her brother.
When the Americans found her, she weighed just 68 pounds, and was on the ground outside a crematorium. She tells CBS New York, "I was lying on the crematorium door waiting to be shuffled to crematorium. I was sick and when the American soldiers picked me up, I looked [and] he looked like he was in heaven." In the decades since, Kreuzman, now 90 and living in New Jersey, has searched in vain for someone to thank, going so far as to write letters to men she found in telephone books who she thought might be connected to the 11th Armored Division, reports the Star-Ledger.
How she eventually found Joe Barbella, 93, two months ago, is pretty wild: She happened to be reading a 65th wedding anniversary announcement in the Star-Ledger for Barbella and his wife, which noted that his division helped liberate Mauthausen.
She called him the next day, and the two have had several meetings since.
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