Shabbat Shalom: Stories of the Liberated and the Liberators

Apr 4, 2023 | Article

Shabbat Shalom: Stories of the Liberated and the Liberators

Apr 4, 2023

As we read the Pesach story commemorating the Hebrews’ liberation from slavery in Egypt, I am reminded of another miraculous liberation story.

Years ago, serving on the Board of Directors at the now Staenberg-Loup Jewish Community Center, I settled in for a regular board meeting in the JCC’s long conference room. Each meeting began with a D’var Torah, and on this day, it was delivered by board member Howard Greinetz z”l.

Greinetz described his time in the US Army – he had enlisted at age 19 and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He was part of the 11th armored division that liberated Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. He talked about one of the annual reunions of his division — returning to Europe time and again for emotional gatherings to recall what they did, comrades they lost, and prisoners they had freed.

That unit, the 11th Armored Division, was one I had heard many stories about as a child. The stories that I knew were from my father who was a prisoner in a subcamp of Mauthausen. It was Greinetz’s division that opened the gates of the camps on May 5, 1945. Until the day he died, my father often said May 5 was his “birthday.”

Decades later, here in Denver, my father David z”l and Howard met. They embraced and cried. There were tears of joy and sadness, gratitude and regret, pain, and relief. They joined in their memories and in the horror of what they witnessed. It was a miraculous liberation and a miraculous meeting.

Howard passed away in 2014 and my father just two years later. Both were philanthropists, forces in many Jewish organizations in their home cities of Denver and Colorado Springs, respectively.

As we celebrate our Passover seders, let us recall the stories of the liberated and the liberators, and let us be reminded that, “In every generation one is obligated to see oneself as one who personally went out from Egypt.”

Please email Renée Rockford at with questions or comments.