Obituary: Norbert Friedman

Obituary: Norbert Friedman

Norbert Friedman, a Holocaust survivor, author, teacher, beloved father, grandfather, brother and friend, died peacefully at age 96 on Feb. 6, 2019.

The late Norbert Friedman, z"l.
The late Norbert Friedman, z"l.

Norbert Friedman, a Holocaust survivor, author, teacher, beloved father, grandfather, brother and friend, died peacefully at age 96 on Feb. 6, 2019, in his home in Atlanta.  His friendship, compassion and intelligence were a gift to all those who knew and loved him. Norbert inspired hundreds of thousands of people from all ages across the world with his vivid testimony of courage, inclusion, faith and hope.  He spoke often of his duty to “bear witness to the events of that fateful era and to draw positive lessons from man’s most tragic experience.”

Born in Krakow, Poland, in 1922, Norbert grew up the son of a kosher butcher, and although he excelled scholastically, he was barred from entering engineering school because of education quotas for Jews.

After the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, Norbert eluded capture until 1942, when he and his father were sent to Mielec concentration camp.  His mother Gusta, brother Oskar and about 50 family members were sent to Belzec, where they were executed. Norbert and his father survived the war. Norbert was imprisoned in 11 concentration camps before being liberated by the American Army.  He worked briefly as a translator for the Army and then attended Frankfurt University in Germany.

In 1950, Norbert immigrated to the United States and initially lived in Atlanta. Norbert resettled in New Jersey and then New York, where he started a machine shop. He married Marilyn Ginsburg, raised two sons and became a fixture in the community with his moving Holocaust testimony and commitment to Jewish causes and social justice.

In 1996, Norbert became affiliated with the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York. He served as gallery educator and was on the museum’s Speakers Bureau, lecturing in educational institutions ranging from public schools to universities and military bases. He represented the museum on radio and was interviewed and quoted by the The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The New York Jewish Week and other publications.

For his efforts and teachings about the Holocaust and other violations of human rights, the New York State Board of Regents awarded Norbert ‘Citizen of the Year’ in 2001. Norbert published a highly touted memoir, “Sun Rays at Midnight,” in 2006, which has sold thousands of copies. He also wrote “Sappy Tales and Silent Screams: Subterranean Echoes from the Holocaust.” He moved back to Atlanta in 2010 and was a member of Congregation B’nai Torah and an active speaker for the William Bremen Jewish Heritage Museum. Norbert loved to play golf and watch his New York sports teams. He kvelled, proudly watching his grandchildren perform in theater and play sports.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 55 years, Marilyn Friedman. He is survived by his sister, Irene Vitau; two sons, Gary and David; daughters-in-law, Noelle and Julie; and four grandchildren, Colin, Carolyn, Joelle and Gavin.

Arrangements by Dressler’s Jewish Funeral Care, 770-451-4999.

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