In this incredibly touching story from the New Jersey Star-Ledger, Marsha Kreuzman, a 90-year old Holocaust survivor reunited with Joe Barella, the soldier who rescued her from Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp nearly 68 years ago at the end of World War II.
On May 5, 1945, U.S. soldiers from the 11th Armored Division would cross the Linz border in Austria and liberate Mauthausen. Barbella wouldn’t enter the camp with the medical unit until the day after it was liberated, he said. “When we got there, we saw all these people were skin and bones,” Barbella said. Kreuzman said she remembers lying down just outside the camp’s crematorium when the soldiers arrived. She heard the words: “You’re free.” She fainted and a soldier carried her to a field hospital, where doctors would start nursing her back to health…
Marsha spent many years searching for American soldiers who were involved with the liberation of Mauthausen-Gusen without any luck, that is until she looked in the local paper.
Then, in October, nearly 70 years after her liberation, she came across a wedding anniversary announcement in The Star-Ledger for Joe and Anne Barbella’s 65th anniversary. “A veteran of World War II, Joseph served in the 11th Armored Division which liberated the Mauthausen concentration camp,” the announcement said.The next day, a tearful Kreuzman called the Barbellas and told Anne Barbella that she was one of the Jews whom Joe liberated. They arranged a meeting at the Barbellas’ home later that month through the New Jersey Jewish News and the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.
With less than a half hour’s drive between Marsha’s home in Livingston and Joe’s home in Union, the two have become great friends. Marsha even sent Joe a Christmas present to thank him.
images via New Jersey Star-Ledger