This was originally published on SILive.com.
Shira Stoll, a Multimedia Specialist for the Advance/SILive.com, is the filmmaker behind the “Where Life Leads You” documentary and the Staten Island Holocaust Survivor series.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Arnold Aronowitz was six years old when his father was beaten to death by the German army in 1943.
Arnold and his parents, John and Esther Aronowitz, lived in Falticeni, Romania, where John, a highly respected Romanian army veteran, ran a profitable lumber mill business.
In 1941, the Germans passed through Romania to fight the Soviet Union. They took over synagogues where they hosted soldiers and officials, and some officers stayed in John, Esther and Arnold’s home.
Arnold recalls how nice and friendly the soldiers were to him and his family. He has distinct memories of the officers dancing with him and carrying him on their shoulders.
His mother once asked the soldiers why they were nice to them if they were killing Jews in other parts of Europe.
The soldier responded that he liked them, but if he had to kill them one day, he would, because “that’s what a soldier does,” Arnold remembers.
The German officers left to fight, but while they were away, John began organizing a resistance. Upon their return, someone told the officers that John had been organizing this resistance, and the soldiers killed him.
This was something Arnold would never forget.
I first spoke to Arnold at the Sukkot celebration at the JCC in Seaview in October 2017. He looked very young. I was taken by surprise when he told me that he was an 81-year-old Holocaust survivor.
When Arnold and I connected about scheduling an interview, he was already in Deerfield Beach, Fla., where he goes to escape the Staten Island winters. So, I flew there to hear how he and his family moved around and hid for three years to avoid being taken away, and how he and his mother would eventually find their way to New York.
I invite you to watch the above video and hear Arnold’s story.