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Yad Vashem to Honor Bernard Aptaker of Houston Tomorrow

26 June 2007

Yad Vashem will honor Bernard Aptaker, of Houston, Texas, tomorrow at a ceremony dedicating the Warsaw Ghetto Square Garden, established through the generous gift of Mr. Aptaker.

The event will take place in the presence of Avi Dicter, Minister of Public Security, Abraham Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, Avner Shalev, Chairman of Yad Vashem, representatives of the American Center in Jerusalem, Holocaust survivors and others at Yad Vashem on Wednesday, June 27, 2007, at 12:00.

Avner Shalev, Chairman of Yad Vashem, expressed his appreciation to Aptaker. Bernard is dedicated to the cause of Holocaust remembrance, and committed to conveying the legacy of the Holocaust, and the fight against antisemitism and intolerance, to future generations. The story of his survival, with his father and brother, is one of great strength and inspiration. Bernards ability to rebuild after the Holocaust, and his commitment to the struggle against antisemitism, serve as models for us all. We at Yad Vashem are committed to remembering the past so we can build a better future. I am happy to be able to call Bernard our partner and friend in these efforts.

About Bernard Aptaker:

Bernard Aptaker was born in 1926 in Zakrzowek, Poland to Nachum Meir Aptaker and Sara Rojzner Aptaker. He was the eldest of 3 brothers. Following the German invasion of Poland in 1939, Nachum was taken away to forced labor, but Sara managed to sell the family valuables and bribe the labor camp officials to obtain Nachums release. The Aptaker family went into hiding in various places, but eventually all their hiding places were compromised.

In November 1942, the Aptakers were forced into the Krasnik ghetto. Nachum and Bernard were selected for forced labor and taken to the Budzyn concentration camp. They were soon joined by Stanley, but Sara and Moshe, who was 8 years old, were sent to Belzec, where they were murdered.

In Budzyn, Nachum and his two sons were subjected daily to brutality, intense hunger, humiliation, whippings and selections. They survived together in Budzyn until the Spring of 1944, when they were transferred to the Wieliczka salt mines, and soon afterwards they were transported in cattle-cars to the Flossenburg concentration camp. On April 1945, with the Red Army approaching, the inmates of Flossenburg were forced on death march to Dachau. Bernard and Stanley carried their father when he could go no further, undoubtedly saving his life. Just before Allied forces liberated Dachau they escaped the camp, and were found by a US military unit on April 29, 1945. Nachum, Bernard and Stanley survived.

In 1947, they immigrated to the United States. Bernard worked in a deli, and later as a dance instructor before becoming a successful real-estate developer and businessman in Houston. Bernard is a major supporter of many philanthropic causes and recently became a Benefactor of Yad Vashem.

I was a witness. My eyes have seen it As long as Im alive, they cant say that such didnt happen. I was there. I lived through this nightmare; I survived it, perhaps to tell this story. From Bernard Aptakers testimony