(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.)
MAPLEWOOD, N.J. -- It was a cold January afternoon when I first walked into Egon Salmon's home in Maplewood, N.J. I was met with a hefty booklet which detailed his life story.
"Read this and then we can do the interview," he said.
I laughed, thinking he was joking. Egon and I had spoke three times on the phone before I arrived to interview him for the Holocaust survivors project.
But he was not joking. He wanted me to understand how hard the story of the Holocaust is to comprehend.
"It's almost impossible to describe," Egon explained. And he wanted me to have a firm grasp on the concept that I would be trying to teach to others.
We had met two month prior at the Kristallnacht and the S.S. St. Louis event at Wagner College in November of 2017, where I first heard about his family's journey to freedom.
Egon is also a prominent figure on Staten Island. He started Salmon Real-Estate in 1956, making it the oldest independent real-estate firm on Staten Island. His two sons, Jon and Henry Salmon, continued his legacy, and Jon Salmon is now the President of the firm.
But before he was able to start this successful business, he and his family went through a long journey to escape the Nazis.
"Why don't you start by telling me your birthday and where you were born," I began.
"O.K.," he said. And he took a long pause to gather his thoughts. "I was born in the town of Rhyedt, Germany, which is the western part of Germany, near the French, Belgium, and Dutch border."
The interview continued as such, with such precise details, to make sure that I could understand geographically where everything was, and when exactly everything occurred.
After Hitler took power in Germany in 1933, Jewish life became very restricted.
Nine-year-old Egon was not able to go to restaurants or to the movies, and many people didn't want to associate with his family anymore, solely because they were Jewish.
On the evening of Nov. 9, 1938 through Nov. 10, 1938, the Nazis destroyed Jewish shops, lit synagogues on fire, and killed many Jews. This pogrom, known as Kristallnacht or the Night of the Broken Glass, is recognized as the beginning of the Holocaust.
Egon's father, Paul Salmon, was arrested by the Gestapo during this time, and he was taken to the Dachau concentration camp.
After a few months, Paul Salmon was let go and he planned the journey to get himself and his family out of Germany.
We invite you to watch the above video to hear Egon's chilling story about how he and his family escaped to the United States.