The horrors of war is something most of us only read about in books, having lived in relative peace the recent decades.
But for 87-year old Joshua Kaufman, those days he endured at the hands of his Nazi torturers would forever be etched in his mind. Kaufman thought he would not get out of the prison camp in Dachau alive.
But all that changed when U.S. army soldier Daniel Gillespie stormed the camp where the “bone thin” Kaufman was at and liberated him along with his fellow prisoners.
Kaufman was terrified. He said most of the prisoners “were marked for death.” When troops stormed their location, they were initially scared, unsure if those who entered were liberators or soldiers sent to kill them all.
“Then I saw the white flag flying from the watchtower and I realized then that the torture was at an end. When the Americans smashed in the door, my heart did somersaults,” he detailed.
Soon as Gillespie helped Kaufman out of the prison and into his freedom, they both thought that it was the last time they would see each other.
The Jew eventually migrated to the United States where he started his own family, had three children and became a plumber. Meanwhile, Gillespie settled back down in America with his wife and eight children and became a salesman.
The two had no idea they were living an hour away from each other until a German documentary crew arranged their meeting in California.
When Kaufman saw Gillespie for the first time since he was freed, he fell to his knees in front of the war veteran.
The former concentration camp prisoner began sobbing while staying on his knees and said, “I have wanted to do this for 70 years. I love you, I love you so much…”
Kaufman was crying in gratitude for the man who had saved his life. “I came out of hell into the light. For that, and to him, I am eternally grateful.”
Gillespie remembered the day he and his fellow soldiers fought to free the prisoners. “It was the most profound shock of my life. Its liberation changed my life forever.”
The two would be part of a documentary by History Channel about the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps.
Before they parted, Kaufman summed up what he was feeling and told Gillespie, “I have everything I wanted in life through him. That is the reason for my thankfulness.”