Albert Garih speaks for Holocaust Remembrance Day

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Mariah Haddenham
  • 11th Wing Public Affairs
Albert Garih, a holocaust survivor, spoke in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day, at the Chapel 1 Annex on Joint Base Andrews, April 13.

Approximately 50 people were in attendance and Garih focused on his account of the German occupation of Paris and the liberation that followed.

"My parents, Benjamin and Claire, both moved to France in 1923, that's where they met," Garih said. "They were both natives of Constantinople, now Istanbul. They both spoke French so it seemed the natural place to go, and that's where my twin brother and I were later born. We both got sick as infants, and infant mortality rates were much higher then, than they are now, and I was the one who survived."

Garih's father worked two jobs to provide for their family, and in September 1943 his father was deported to a forced labor camp.

The family was then invited to stay with a Madame Galop and her husband after Claire had expressed her fear of being taken away with her children.

"My mother met Madame Galop at the market," Garih said. "My mother, sisters and I hid with her for six months until her neighbor threatened to alert German authorities."

Garih and his sisters were then placed in Catholic boarding schools in Montfermeil, with no means of communication with their mother. Garih says he believes he was protected by the Headmistress, who he believes knew he was Jewish.

The Allied Powers liberated Paris and Montfermeil in 1944, and Claire collected her children and returned to Paris where they hopefully awaited the return of Benjamin.

Benjamin was being transported to a concentration camp, when members of the Belgian resistance stopped the train and liberated the remaining prisoners, including Benjamin.

"My father walked home from Dixmude, Belgium to Paris," Garih said. "This took him about three months and he arrived on the morning of Rosh Hashanah."

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year and Benjamin had made it a goal to spend it with his family.

"It is becoming very rare to meet a holocaust survivor, and rarer to meet a survivor who had a family make it through the war," said Maj. Raphael Burdugo, 11th Deputy Wing Chaplin.

After the war, Garih received a degree in English and Spanish to French translation from the School of Advanced Translation and Interpretation Studies. He worked as a translator at several major organizations such as a United Nations agency in Montreal and the World Bank, which led him to Washington, D.C in 1976. He now serves as a volunteer at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.