75 years on, survivor finds the family of American soldier who liberated her

Great-grandson’s tweet leads to emotional online meeting for Lily Ebert and the children of Private Hayman Shulman


A London-based Auschwitz survivor has been united with the family of the American soldier who liberated her after a tweet about her liberation from her 16-year-old great-grandson went viral.

Lily Ebert, 90, and close relatives enjoyed an online conversation with Jason and Arlene, the children of Private Hayman Shulman, in what her great-grandson Dov Forman described as a “very special” occasion.

Recognising the fragility of life during the pandemic, he had been documenting Ms Ebert’s experiences. Going through her possessions, she had come across the banknote given to her by Private Shulman with the message: “A start to a new life. Good luck and happiness.” Dov posted an image of it on Twitter, eliciting a huge response.

The banknote also carried the inscription “assistant to Chaplain Schacter”. It was this reference — to Rabbi Herschel Schacter, the first US Army chaplain to enter Buchenwald in April 1945 — that enabled the Shulmans to make the connection.

It transpired that the Shulman children had not known about their late father’s act of kindness — he had spoken very little about the war.

Dov’s tweet had changed their perspective of him and Jason Shulman said the virtual meeting had “brought tears to my eyes”. Dov said the Shulmans immediately felt like family “because they meant so much to my great-grandma”.

Ms Ebert said that “75 years on from my liberation by American troops, I am overwhelmed that my great-grandson has been able to unite me with Private Shulman’s family. It is the ultimate proof that the Nazis did not win.”

Dov is the same age as his great-grandmother was when she was liberated. Contrasting their lives, he said he was “so privileged to have a life without oppression”, adding that it was now his responsibility to tell Ms Ebert’s story.

He hoped that when it was possible, the two families would meet in person.

Ms Ebert was born in 1929 in Bonyhad, Hungary. At 14 she was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau and also survived slave labour in a munitions factory and a death march. She was liberated with her two sisters and brother. She recalled that “after years of Nazi persecution, Private Shulman’s act of kindness showed me that there was good in humanity and gave me hope for a better future”.

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