Holocaust survivor activates national siren with granddaughter

Siren operator this year is Holocaust survivor Avraham Zalmanovich and granddaughter Corporal Gal Roth.

Mordechai Sones ,

Avraham Zalmanovich and granddaughter Gal Roth
Avraham Zalmanovich and granddaughter Gal Roth
IDF Spokesman

The national siren marking Holocaust Remembrance Day was activated today by Holocaust survivor Avraham Zalmanovich (87), who survived the war as a child in Romania.

Avraham arrived this morning at the Home Front Command's warning room where his granddaughter, Corporal Gal Roth, acts as an alarm operator. Together they pressed the button that sounded the siren all over the country.

Avraham lived in a small house in Romania with his family - his mother, his father, his brother, his aunt, and her husband. His mother worked in the family grocery store near their home, and Avraham helped support the household. On the first day of summer vacation, the Germans bombed the town where he lived and at the same time took control of the family grocery.

In the morning of that day, the Germans took his father to a labor camp. Later in the day, the rest of the family and villagers were taken to a remote location and waited for a train that was to transfer them to labor camps.

Waiting for the train took about three months, and in the meantime the family rented a warehouse where they could live. Throughout the period they survived under difficult conditions without food, drink, clothing, or a proper home. All family members were forced to wear yellow badges in the streets. They would work clearing snow in the area and at night they would return to the shelter and look for ways to survive.

Following the hard work in the camp, Avraham's father became ill and his mother worked to get him out of hard labor. Because they were so destitute, the family could not treat him with medication, and all they could do was hide him until his illness caused his death at age 40.

Avraham met his wife, Sidonia, in Romania. In 1964 together with his wife and son Norris he immigrated to Israel, established a family, and in 1969 their daughter Orly was born. Avraham began working as a truck driver and continued living his life with his family.

"I find it exciting to activate the siren with my granddaughter, Gal," says Avraham. "It excites me to reach this time and be given the opportunity to see my granddaughters serve in the army. I want the soldiers to appreciate now what they have, the State that is in their hands and which they will continue to defend for us."

"My grandfather is one of my most precious people in my life; I'm thankful for every moment when I can hear his heroic stories," said Corporal Gal Rot. "I was privileged to grow up with this option that many don't get, to hear my grandfather's story from him. He's a role model and I admire him, and for me every day with him is another lesson in life.

"Activating the siren together with him is like closing a circle, for the few people who have such an exciting opportunity. As a female soldier in the war room, I'm happy to raise my head with my grandfather proudly for the 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust."