Our sincere gratitude

Resettlement after the Shoah, July 2010

For resettlement in Dayton after the Shoah

By Samuel Heider

Samuel Heider

On Dec. 3, 1949, displaced persons Phyllis and Samuel Heider and their 2 1/2-year-old son arrived in Dayton on the assurances of the Dayton Jewish Community Council, now the Jewish Federation. From 1949-51, the Federation resettled 36 DP family units to Dayton.

My wife and I are both Holocaust survivors. We survived five years in ghettos and concentration camps under the most inhumane conditions mankind has ever known. I survived Auschwitz and Dachau among others, and my wife, Phyllis, survived Bergen-Belsen. After surviving the Holocaust, I was sent to a DP camp in Landsberg, Germany.

In 1945, I went to Bergen-Belsen DP Camp, where I met Phyllis at a dance. I brought her with me to Landsberg, where we were married in 1946.

Our son was born in 1947. We remained in Landsberg until 1949. From there, we left Bremen, Germany on Dec. 2 on a ship, the USNS Gen. M. B. Stewart.

We finally left Europe for good, with the help of HIAS and the United Jewish Appeal. We came to the land of freedom, the U.S.A. After being on the ship for 11 days, we were greeted by a HIAS and UJA delegation.

We were put on a train to Dayton, Ohio. When we arrived in Dayton, a delegation from the Jewish Community Council was waiting for us. Mr. Kraus of the Jewish Family Service, and others welcomed us very cordially.

After feeding us, they took us immediately to a furnished apartment filled with food and necessities, what we needed for our daily needs.

What amazed us most was a refrigerator full of food. We didn’t know why they put food in a refrigerator to get it cold. We had never heard of a refrigerator, but Mr. Kraus explained it to us. They also gave us some money.

In the next few days, they took us to a clothing store, to a Mr. Sokol, and they gave us clothing for me, my wife, and our son.

They introduced us to some Jews who came to Dayton from Europe before the war, and what was most important: we spoke to them in Yiddish.

They found a job for me and for the next few months, they provided us with everything for our daily needs.

They put us in a warm house and every Sunday, Mr. Kraus took us around to some people.

Robert Fitterman, director of Dayton’s Jewish Community Council, appointed a delegation and every second day, someone came and asked if we needed anything.

After six months or so, I was working and didn’t need too much assistance from the Jewish Community Council. We were very grateful for the help they gave us, and we will never forget that.

I don’t know what we would have done without them. We came without money. We came from DP camps. We didn’t know anyone and we didn’t know the language. We barely survived the Holocaust, lost our families and everything we had.

Therefore my wife Phyllis and I want to express our sincere gratitude to the Jewish Community Council for all they have done for us. As the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton celebrates its 100 years of existence, we extend our sincere mazel tov and good wishes for another 100 years, passed on l’dor v’dor, from generation to generation, so their commitment to humanity shall never end!

With our sincere congratulations to the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton.

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