Watch CBS News

Holocaust survivor Leo Ullman commends those who did "enormously dangerous deeds" to save Jewish children

Holocaust survivor Leo Ullman shares firsthand account of escaping war
Holocaust survivor Leo Ullman shares firsthand account of escaping war 02:35

NEW YORK -- Friday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking 78 years since the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. 

Every year we lose more Holocaust survivors who can share their stories, so it's now more important than ever to learn the history from those who lived through it.

Leo Ullman is 83 years old, and was just 3 when the war started. He and his parents had to split up as they went into hiding in the Netherlands.

"You were so young during the Holocaust. What do you want people to know?" CBS2's Cindy Hsu asked. 

"I think that the important thing is that there were very good people who did enormously dangerous deeds to save Jewish kids during the war," Ullman said. 

Holocaust survivor Leo Ullman reflects on escaping war 06:50

Having no idea where his parents went, Ullman was taken in by a Dutch family.

"I wound up with a policeman and his wife, and they took the ultimate risk. They didn't know who I was, and there were bounties paid for people who betrayed hidden Jews, and they took care of me, kept me inside, basically, for the war. I was there for nearly three years, and then my parents came to pick me up. I didn't know who they were," he said.

"Well, you and your parents made it to the United States. You have accomplished so much, you are 83 years old," Hsu said. 

"That's an accomplishment right there," Ullman said. 

"You graduated from Harvard. You've written a book about your experience and you have done more than 145 triathlons and some iron man races. What do you want people to take away from your story?" Hsu asked.

"That's survivorship. I mean, you could survive a triathlon if you're intending to do so. The story is that there are opportunities in this country that are unlimited," Ullman said.

Dana Arschin is a storyteller for the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County. Her grandfather is also a survivor at 100 years old, which is one of the reasons she's determined to record the stories of those who are left.  

"We're running out of time. Leo is one of the youngest Holocaust survivors. What are you hoping people will do today?" Hsu asked. 

"So, it is so rare to have a firsthand witness to the horrors. I hope that people go out of their way to meet survivors like Leo," Arschin said. "Hear their stories and understand that we are the last generation to hear these firsthand accounts, so that's all I can ask."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.