Al (Abraham) Negrin

Before the War

Abraham Negrin was born April 5, 1924 in Trikala, Greece. His father was a hat maker and owned a store. Al was the oldest and had two siblings. When the Germans invaded Greece in April 1941, his family moved to the mountains to hide. However, he was studying accounting at the University of Athens with only two semesters to graduate, so he stayed in Athens, changing his name from Abraham Negrin to Alex Papadopoulos via a false ID provided by the resistance.

During the War

After he graduated, Al fought in the resistance for the Greek People's Liberation Army (ELAS). He was made a lieutenant because he was educated. In December 1943 Al’s sister became sick with typhoid fever, and his family left the mountains to take her to the hospital. The family felt safe and comfortable in their home so they decided to stay there for the winter. On March 23, 1944 at 4am the Germans arrived and arrested all the Jews. They spent 2-3 weeks in a camp in Larissa, Greece. They were packed into cattle cars, unable to sit down for 7 days, and arrived in Auschwitz. On arrival, people ages 18 to 40 walked into the camp. Women with children and the elderly were given a truck ride directly to the gas chambers. His mother, Sofia, was carrying her 3-year-old nephew, so she was gassed. Al and his father spent about 10 days there, were dehumanized, striped of all clothes, tattooed, starved, and removed of emotion. They were sent to build a new camp that would hold 2000 Hungarian Jews. In mid-January 1945 when the Russians started approaching, they were put into open coal cars, and rode for five days to Bergen-Belsen, another death camp in east Germany. They worked at many different work camps over the next few months. The allies were approaching so the Germans took the prisoners on a march back to Bergen-Belsen. Al’s father got sick, so Al was forced to leave him on the side of the road to die just days before the liberation. Bergen-Belsen was liberated on April 15, 1945 by the British. When they arrived, Al weighed just 90 pounds.

After the War

Al stayed in a DP camp for five months, where he met his wife, Anna. In September they returned to Greece where they were married. In 1954, an earthquake destroyed their home, so they decided to move the the U.S. They moved to Columbus, Ohio with their two sons, and had a daughter after they arrived. Abraham "Al" died on April 6, 2016. You can read his obituary here.

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