By Melissa Garcia
DENVER, Colo. (CBS4) - A World War II veteran who lives in Denver flew to Europe to reunite with a prisoner that he saved from a Nazi death camp 71 years ago.
Sid Shafner, 94, traveled to Israel for a 10-day trip of a lifetime. CBS4's Melissa Garcia interviewed Shafner upon his return to Denver.
Shafner, a retired U.S. Army corporal, is one of three concentration camp liberators flown to Europe by the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. A videographer with the nonprofit organization captured Shafner's tearful reunion with Marcel Levy.
Levy was 17 years old when Shafner and his troop helped him escape from the Dachau death camp in Germany. Shafner described the moments when the two men reunited at an Israeli Air Force base.
"He hugged me and kissed me," said Shafner, as his eyes welled up with tears. "And I hugged him and kissed him."
The liberation on that day in 1945 freed an estimated 30,000 prisoners from unspeakable torture.
During Shafner's trip he visited other concentration camps that he said were difficult to see.
The group made stops in Poland, visiting Auschwitz and a graveyard where hundreds of innocent children were shot and buried on the spot.
"I've had children myself," said Shafner. "This affected me."
While the trip had its painful points, Shafner said that it was also filled with joy in seeing his old friend, Marcel Levy. At the time of Levy's rescue from Dachau, he was the only member of his family who survived the Holocaust. For that reason Shafner invited Levy to join him as the troop's dishwasher -- and Levy took him up on the offer.
"He was good at washing the dishes, I'll tell you that," said Shafner of Levy at the reunion.
Levy presented Shafner with a plaque that read, "You came like a warrior angel … and carried me into the light."
Levy's next of kin said they were forever grateful to Shafner for saving Levy.
"We know (that) because of you, we have Marcel," said one family member. "Thank you very much. We really appreciate it, and we are very proud of you."
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