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Chief of staff meets the woman his mother saved in WWII

Ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Benny Gantz participates in IDF project that encourages soldiers to visit survivors

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz meets with Holocaust survivor Esther Friedman ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day, April 3, 2013 (Photo credit: IDF Spokesperson/Flash90)
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz meets with Holocaust survivor Esther Friedman ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day, April 3, 2013 (Photo credit: IDF Spokesperson/Flash90)

IDF Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz paid a visit ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day to Holocaust survivor Esther Friedman from Petah Tikva on Wednesday, a woman whose life Gantz’s mother, Malka, saved at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp during World War II.

Friedman was born in Hungary and was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau when she was just 12 years old.

After surviving Dr. Mengele, she was sent to Bergen-Belsen where she fell ill with typhus.

Malka Gantz, who was at the camp at the time, pulled her from a pile of bodies as the girl clung to life.

The two women kept in touch after the war and traveled to Israel together on the ship “Haim Arlosoroff” in 1947.

Friedman told Gantz that his mother always dreamt he would become a senior IDF officer and, as a gift, handed him a picture of his mother from her time at the concentration camp.

The visit was part of the Flower for a Holocaust Survivor project, in which IDF personnel visit with some 17,000 Holocaust survivors yearly.

On Wednesday, Gantz was named as one of the six torchlighters at the ceremony that closes the March of the Living in Poland.

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