Sophomores Meet Holocaust Survivor: George Elbaum

Luck is defined as: success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions. For most of us, luck is finding a dollar on the floor or when two things come out of a vending machine. However, for George Elbaum, luck determined life or death. Mr. Elbaum, a Holocaust survivor, described his horrific experiences he faced as a mere child during the Holocaust to the sophomores at Oceana High School. The sophomores at Oceana are focusing the year on different types of oppression. Currently they are learning about WWI and WWII. Mr. Elbaum was contacted to share his experiences with the class.

It all started for Elbaum in Warsaw, Poland in 1941, he was only three. He left his home with his grandma, his new tricycle and not a care in the world. Yet everything changed when they returned home. The Jews of Warsaw, Poland were forced into a ghetto, and many into the home of the Elbaums.

In 1942, the Jews were forced out of the ghetto but using her wits, Elbaum’s mother was able to get tickets for her son, her mom, and herself that insured their safety. It was by luck and coincidence that Elbaum’s mom made it on time to save her family. After their quick escape, Elbaum’s mom pays a Polish Catholic family to take George in. For years, this was Elbaum’s life, living with another family. The family would care for him, clothe him, feed him but in the end, he was not truly their child. Elbaum couldn’t remember anyone’s name from that family except for one, the dad, Leon. With Leon’s family, Elbaum faced many close calls. For example, while the whole family were on the run to Leon’s cousin’s farm, he, unknowingly, picked up a strange dark blue object. Being a little kid, Elbaum played with the weird looking object and pulled out a pin from it. When called back by Leon, he threw the object behind him into a ditch. While running back to Leon, they heard an explosion. Eventually, Elbaum realized that the mysterious object and explosion was a German hand grenade. At the time, if any Poles were seen with that kind of weaponry, they would have been killed on the spot.

In 1945, the war ends and Elbaum reunited with his mother. On the other hand, he learned that his grandmother was shot and killed when she was given up by the family that had taken her in. Still in constant fear, Elbaum’s mother sent him off to live with another family in Palestine. 4 years later the Elbaum’s were reunited yet again, this time for good. They moved to America and George became a student and eventually a college graduate. Elbaum was able to get a BS, MS, and a PhD in Aeronautics and pursued a career in the aerospace industry. From there, he went into international trade and then real estate investment and development. Currently, Elbaum goes to various schools as a public speaker to share his story of survivl and hope.

Book: Neither Yesterdays Nor Tomorrows (free on


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