by Danny Maerten
Joseph Diamond, a Holocaust survivor and current vice president of the Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo, was the guest speaker at the Niagara County Patriot's Nov. 22 meeting.
Diamond presented an emotional account of his trying days of starvation, torture, physical and mental abuse as a prisoner in German concentration camps. He was 14 when the Nazis invaded his hometown, Seredne, in the eastern part of Czechoslovakia. Diamond and his father were the only ones in his family who survived brutal imprisonment in German concentration camps in the latter part of WWII.
Diamond, his family, and the other Jews were taken by train to Uzhorod to a brick factory, a temporary ghetto, where they spent four weeks. Life there was primitive. They went from nice homes to sleeping in tents and no running water. No one knew where they were going. They prayed to the Lord to take them to a better camp.
After four weeks, Joe, his mom, dad, and brother were all called over the camp's P.A. and told to report out front, where they would be transported to a permanent camp. While climbing aboard the truck Joe saw an 80-year-old woman having trouble. A soldier threw her on board like a piece of meat. He saw small children being kicked and beaten. If a person fought back, they were shot in the head.
After the horrendous truck trip they were herded and jammed into cattle cars and transported to Auschwitz. Here, his mother and 7-year-old brother were split from him and his father. He learned soon after that his mother and brother were marched directly to the gas chambers. Diamond and his father were then sent to different work details. Diamond told how he saw Hitler and was "interviewed" by Dr. Mengele at the camps. While in Auschwitz, every day he witnessed 80 percent of the people go up in smoke.
A set of occurrences enabled him to barely escape death and meet his father, after the liberation by the American Third Army, back in their hometown.
Diamond came to America with $5 and found his way to the Buffalo area in 1948 when he was 18, led here by the information that he had relatives who had a dry cleaning establishment on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo. He was then drafted and served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. When he returned after serving his country, America, he began work at Bennett Lumber Co. in North Tonawanda and later founded his own construction company, Diamondcraft Homes.
Through his living testimony, and also by building a family, a new generation of Jewish children, Diamond told visitors, "Whatever the Nazis tried to do, they didn't succeed, even though we lost the majority of our people. We can never let this (Holocaust) occur in any lifetime as long as the human race exists."
Next, Catherine Chapman, president of the Buffalo Chapter of the Blue Star Mothers, gave an informative presentation regarding the organization founded in 1942. Members have children honorably serving in the United States military. Blue Star Mothers proudly assist our military while promoting patriotism. For information visit www.bluestarmothersNY7.org.
The Niagara County Patriots will resume its monthly meetings beginning in January 2011. For information, contact Danny Maerten at 731-3696 or [email protected].