Grandchild of four Holocaust survivors, Arik Cohen tells their stories of perseverance, luck, and resilience while calculating the incredible odds of their survival.
Arik's maternal grandparents, Arye Schneider and Masha Klein, were born in Lithuania. Arye was born in Šaukėnai (Shukyan), Lithuania, where in 1941 nearly the whole Jewish population was murdered. Arye escaped and made his way to the Siauliai (Shavli) ghetto, where he met his wife Masha, a teacher who hailed from Neverenai (Nevaran). After the Shavli Ghetto massacre in November 1943, Arye and Masha hid in the woods for eight months until the Soviet Army liberated Lithuania.
Arik's paternal grandparents were from the Transylvania region in Romania. His grandfather Emil Kohn grew up in Suplac, while his grandmother Eva Hirsch was from Gherla. In May 1944, Emil and Eva were in Oradea when the ghetto was formed along with 35,000 other Jews, and not long after they were both deported to Auschwitz. After being separated upon arrival at Auschwitz, Eva was then sent to Stutthof to be used as slave labor, until she was forced on a death march in January 1945 and eventually liberated by the Soviet Army. Emil was liberated from Buchenwald in April of 1945 and found his way back to Eva.
Amazingly, both couples ended up living in the small beach town of Nahariya, Israel, and two of their children (Arik's parents) met and married. Today Arik lives in Bellevue, works at Microsoft, and shares his grandparents' stories.