September 18, 2020 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

‘Wild Child’ Holocaust Survivor Amazes Santa Monica Rotarians:

Santa Monica Rotarians didn’t just hear a first-hand account of the Holocaust on Friday, Aug. 7. They were transported to a young boy’s survival story inside a Nazi nightmare, which in turn translated into an entire generation’s story of resilience and humanity. Rotarians learned about the human capacity for suffering, determination, murder, and ultimately survival. One 88-year-old’s story was able to relay a lifetime of achievement and grit.

The audience was captivated by Dr. Avraham Perlmutter’s vivacious and unwavering depiction of escaping Nazi soldiers nearly 60 years ago. At the end of his talk, he received a standing ovation, a gesture previously unseen by this reporter. In between his oration one could hear audible gasps and “oh my god’s” from the audience. It was a story of a lifetime that gave Rotarians emotions and plots typically saved for the big screen

Perlmutter was just 10 years old when he saw Hitler come in to Vienna, Austria in 1938. He was Jewish and the invading German army was after him soon after they arrived.

“The very fact that I was a wild child actually helped me later on to survive,” Perlmutter said.

It was hard for his family to move anywhere in Europe because they were Jewish. But one of those countries that took them was Netherlands, where he had an aunt. So his parents put him on the Kindertransport (children’s train) and the ensuing war-torn years continued.

Many times, a number of nuns and priests helped Perlmutter in Jewish refugee camps.

He recounted one specific moment when German soldiers came looking for Perlmutter to take him to the Jewish Theatre in Amsterdam (and subsequently off to Auschwitz). He’ll never forget the sound of their boots, and he made the thumping sound on the ground as he told the story. They took him, along with the son of the family whom Perlmutter was staying with.

“Because I was a wild child, I was always planning to get out of there,” Perlmutter said.

So he escaped when two Nazi soldiers changed shifts. He tried to bring the family’s son with him, but he was too scared to come in fear of getting killed. Later, Perlmutter learned he died during the war.

After that, Perlmutter was in constant hiding. Fortunately, his sister, who was in a refugee camp, had sent someone to find him, give him a train ticket, and take him into hiding until they could be reunited again.

“In those days about 95 percent of the Dutch people were anti-Nazi, and a good many of them were actually hiding Jewish children. Before the war there lived about 180,000 Jews in the Netherlands and only about 30,000 survived. And the majority of them were hiden among non-Jews,” Perlmutter said.

His story was punctuated by multiple accounts of hearing those Nazi boots (thump-thump-thump), but each time Perlmutter squirreled away just in time. But every time, there was someone else picked up by the Nazis who died in the war.

He hid in dirt, under coal, under beds, and in closets. He ran from the Nazis, and he escaped their clutches. The wild child soon became a survivor.

Like the tailor, the farmer, and the priest, many of the people who helped Perlmutter along the way remained nameless.

“In those days you were not supposed to know names because if they ever caught you, you couldn’t tell the addresses or names of the people who were hiding you.”

Though he was eventually reunited with his sister, she was caught by the Nazis and taken to Auschwitz. But she survived as well.

“She lives now in Santa Monica, too,” Perlmutter said as the crowd clapped.

With the British soldiers arriving, Perlmutter was able to snag a ride to Tel Aviv, where his parents were. Upon the reunion, his father tried to conceal the sad fact that his mother had died two weeks before his arrival.

During his hidings he managed to get hold of various dictionaries. He taught himself English, French, and Spanish during the war. He realized his passion for knowledge.

He arrived at America with grants to quench his thirst for education. At 24, he graduated undergraduate college in three years. He still wanted to know more. So he received a PhD in aeronautic engineering and went on to become a successful businessman.

After the war, highlights of his life included fighting in the Israeli War of Independence, meeting Albert Einstein during his time attending Princeton University, and developing a stabilizer most cameras use today.

Perlmutter’s story focused on those who helped him rather than those trying to defeat him. His autobiography, the acclaimed book, “Determined,” recounted this miraculous journey from Nazi Europe all the way to Santa Monica, where he lives with his wife still today.

Find Perlmutter’s “Determined” on Amazon.com.

For more information about Santa Monica Rotary, visit rotaryclubofsantamonica.org.

in News
Related Posts

SMMUSD Kindergarten Enrollment Down 20% : Santa Monica Beat – September, 17, 2020

September 17, 2020

September 17, 2020

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * SMMUSD Kindergarten Enrollment Down 20% * As Covid-19 Cases Drop Will...

Edify TV: Sit-down Dining Safety?

September 17, 2020

September 17, 2020

Despite a recent CDC report stating the risks of in-person dining, many Westside restaurant patrons feel the experience is safe....

Sur La Table Closing Santa Monica Location

September 16, 2020

September 16, 2020

1930s building listed for lease By Sam Catanzaro Sur La Table, the popular kitchenware retail chain, is closing its downtown...

Death by Suicide at Santa Monica Place

September 16, 2020

September 16, 2020

Man dies by suicide Wednesday morning By Sam Catanzaro A man died by suicide at Santa Monica Place mall Wednesday....

Santa Monica Partners With Local Elementary Schools to Provide More Outdoor Spaces

September 16, 2020

September 16, 2020

Playground Partnership agreement goes live By Toi Creel The City of Santa Monica and local schools are working together to...

Charges Filed Against Man for Sexually Assaulting Elderly Victims

September 16, 2020

September 16, 2020

Juan Victor Mendoza faces four felony charges Prosecutors have filed charges against a man for sexually assaulting elderly victims at...

COVID-19 Continues to Decrease in County but Air Quality Reducing Testing

September 15, 2020

September 15, 2020

Smoke advisory in effect through Wednesday By Sam Catanzaro While COVID-19 cases continue to decrease in Los Angeles County, health...

Edify TV: Westsiders Working out Amid Poor Air Quality

September 15, 2020

September 15, 2020

With poor air quality due to wildfire smoke, local health officials are urging the public to avoid outdoor activity but...

COVID-19 Could Have Been in Area as Early as Last December

September 15, 2020

September 15, 2020

UCLA study reports significant increase in coughs and acute respiratory failure prior to first official cases of COVID-19 By Sam...

Willy California Wants Men to Rethink Their Closet

September 15, 2020

September 15, 2020

Local clothing line reimagines athleisure By Toi Creel With ranges in styles for men’s clothing from suits and professional clothing...

Police Searching For Robbery Suspects: Santa Monica Beat – September, 14, 2020

September 14, 2020

September 14, 2020

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Police Searching For Robbery Suspects * Should School Board Representatives Have...

Santa Monica Police Consider Bringing Charges Against Local CEO Caught Beating Dog

September 14, 2020

September 14, 2020

Jeffrey Previte, CEO of EBI Consulting, seen in security footage beating dog By Timothy Michael and Sam Catanzaro Jeffrey Previte,...

1 in 5 Tenants in County Have Struggled to Pay Rent During Pandemic, Study Finds

September 11, 2020

September 11, 2020

UCLA and USC release joint report on impact of COVID-19 pandemic on renters By Staff Writer Over 22 percent of...

Edify TV: Santa Monica Pier Vendors Impacted by COVID-19

September 11, 2020

September 11, 2020

With tourism down amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Santa Monica Pier vendors and entertainers are hurting. Hear from them in this...