Holocaust survivor tells his story in East Tennessee
One East Tennessee resident recently shared his story of survival to students at Morristown East High School.
Sunday, April 20th 2014, 12:14 pm EDT
Our NBC News partners at WBIR are reporting one East Tennessee resident recently shared his story of survival to students at Morristown East High School.
Only his story isn't one you would hear often. It's a story of survival in a time where it looked grim.
Dr. Henry Fribourg is a Holocaust survivor.
He was 11 years old and his journey began in Paris, France. His mother and father helped bring his family to safety in America.
Now, he tells his story to different schools and programs around the area. Fribourg says he's doing it more now that he's retired from his job as a professor at the University of Tennessee.
His parents knew when it was time to leave their home in Paris.
"There's a German fighter pilot that came along, and he strafed me. And I laid down in the bottom of that ditch, and he missed me the first time. And he wanted to get me because he came around a second time and missed. And then a third time," said Fribourg.
His father was drafted into a French Militia looking to combat German tanks. The mission failed.
He had to walk 550 miles back to his family so they could make their escape.
"Yes I was scared. We knew what was going on. Well we didn't know exactly about the extermination camps, but we knew about concentration camps," said Fribourg.
It was a long journey out of Europe and Fribourg said a lot of things worked in their favor or else they might not have made it out of Europe.
His family had to receive a number of different travel visas just to get onto a ship that would take them from Portugal to Cuba.
Before making their way to America, they stayed in Cuba for more than three years.
"We had a sigh of relief when we reached Cuba. Of course it was nicer to be in the states, because we didn't really want to stay in Cuba," said Fribourg.
He attended college at University of Wisconsin. He received his PhD from Iowa State University. All the while working to afford his education, and help his family.
Soon after entering America, he met his wife, Claudia in New York.
She also was a Holocaust survivor. She lived in Belgium, and her family left when she was only four years old. It was right before Germany invaded.
"I saw my future more easily with someone who was more or less like my family rather than the boy next door who I had been dating," said Claudia.
Her family left when Belgium was invaded."I was four, my sister was two. And it was just hard to imagine what a young family was going through," said Claudia.
Now, they live in east Tennessee and have been happily married for 57 years.
"We may not make it for another 57, but hopefully quite a few more," said Fribourg.
He worked with UT for 45 years. He and his wife are looking to educate people to remember the events that took place.
You can get a closer look into his story through his autobiography,
It is available on Amazon.