A Texas woman recognized some names of teens and young men in stories that her father had told. The baby-faced captives lived amongst the dead for three years and died in boxcars and barracks while Nazi captors transported them from Poland to France and Germany. After learning that their parents were dead in the gas chambers, their skeletal friends offered a tearful Kaddish (a Jewish prayer of sorrow) to their grieving relatives.
The familiar faces suddenly became real.
Eisen said that "seeing the faces of all of these people really brought the story alive." She discovered the photos when she moved Ruth Salton (99) from Florida to Dallas this summer.
Eisen, 62 years old, stated that she felt the need to find out more about her father's confidants. He died in 2016 at age 88.
George Salton was just 17 years old when the U.S. Army liberated Wobbelin, a concentration camp in Germany, on May 2, 1945. The survivors were scattered all over the globe in the following years. Many lost touch with one another.
Eisen decided to bring the loved ones of the survivors together 76 years later, after American soldiers had removed the barbed wire from prison cells and granted them the impossible dream of freedom.
Eisen confirmed the names and birth dates of survivors as she searched through Nazi-era documents, official documents, concentration camps lists, and other records online at the Arolsen Archive at the International Center on Nazi Persecution.
Ancestry.com allowed her to search passenger lists for ships that carried Holocaust survivors to other countries. She also found Social Security cards that documented name changes and obituaries.
Some people assumed new identities after the war. Eisen's father was Lucek Salzman, born in Tyczyn (Poland). After the horrors he had experienced, Eisen chose a name that was less Jewish upon his arrival in New York in 47.
Eisen was able to find the grandchildren and children of her father's close friends through Google and Facebook searches. Most of them didn't know the whole story about their loved ones until now.
Todd Nussen was a high school teacher of history in Oceanside, New York. Eisen sent him a text in late July asking about Tobias Nussen who had died in 1973 at the age of 52.
"Now I have details. "Now I have facts," said the educator of 40 years.