Joshua Kaufman is a Holocaust survivor who was honored by President Donald Trump at the 2019 State of the Union address. According to History.com, he once said of his liberation by U.S. soldiers, “Through a little hole in the wall I saw American soldiers coming with their tanks and I saw the German running away. To me the American soldiers were a proof that God exists and they were sent down from the sky.”
“A second Holocaust survivor who is here tonight, Joshua Kaufman, was a prisoner at Dachau Concentration Camp,” Trump’s SOTU transcript says. “He remembers watching through a hole in the wall of a cattle car as American soldiers rolled in with tanks. ‘To me,’ Joshua recalls, ‘the American soldiers were proof that God exists, and they came down from the sky.'”
Trump continued, “I began this evening by honoring three soldiers who fought on D-Day in the Second World War. One of them was Herman Zeitchik. But there is more to Herman’s story. A year after he stormed the beaches of Normandy, Herman was one of those American soldiers who helped liberate Dachau. He was one of the Americans who helped rescue Joshua from that hell on earth. Almost 75 years later, Herman and Joshua are both together in the gallery tonight — seated side-by-side, here in the home of American freedom. Herman and Joshua: your presence this evening honors and uplifts our entire Nation.”
Herman Zeitchick and Joshua Kaufman sat side-by-side, and they received a standing ovation. Kaufman saluted.
The D-Day heroes also received a standing ovation. Here’s that moment:
Here’s what you need to know about Joshua Kaufman:
Joshua Kaufman Lives in Los Angeles & Has Tried to Live a Joyful Life
In 2016, when he was 88, the Auschwitz survivor went to Germany to testify at the trial of a former Nazi SS guard.
ABC reported that Kaufman lives in Los Angeles, California. He wanted to testify “how he removed bodies from gas chambers at the World War II death camp after victims had been killed with Zyklon B,” according to the television network.
When Joshua Kaufman was first reunited with one of his U.S. soldier rescuers, a man named Daniel Gillespie, he fell to his feet and said, “I have wanted to do this for 70 years. I love you, I love you so much…”
“In all the years, he saluted. He’s kissed hands. But he never kept his dream of actually kissing feet of veteran,” his daughter Rachel Kaufman said to CBS Local.
Daily Mail reports that Kaufman was a “walking corpse” when he was liberated. According to History.com, Kaufman’s mother and siblings died in the Holocaust.
According to Aish.com, despite the horrors Joshua Kaufman faced, he has somehow maintained the ability to feel and express joy. The site describes him as “a joyful, charismatic and loving man.”
The site describes the horrific circumstances that Kaufman survived at age 15 when he and his family were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, and he was separated from them. “Only days later, when he noticed the strange smoke coming from the other side of camp, did he learn the full extent of the evil of his environment,” the site reports. He also was confined at Dachau.
“You cannot understand what it was like. You can hear my stories, you can try to feel it, but you can never understand,” Kaufman told the journalist, adding, “Be happy every day. Go, enjoy life with your husband, have Jewish kids, and make sure they are connected to Israel.”
Kaufman moved to Israel initially after the war, where he became a soldier, according to History.com, which added that he later moved to America, married, had children, and worked as a plumber.
“I came out of hell into the light,” said Kaufman, according to History.com.