WWII Veteran Reunites with Man he Liberated from Dachau 71 Years Ago

Wed, 05/18/2016 - 11:54am

You never know what you will find in the Visual History Archive. You hear stories of survival, death, life, hope and even friendship amidst the chaos of genocide. Sidney Shafner and Marcel Levy have remained friends for over 70 years – since the liberation of the concentration camp Dachau.

Sidney and Marcel reunited recently in Israel through the nonprofit Friends of Israel Defense Forces.  A viral story about them has captured the hearts of individuals around the world. Both men are now in their 90s and this reunion is most likely one of their last. However, their friendship will live on in Sidney’s testimony preserved in the Visual History Archive.

Screen capture from ABC News video of Sidney Shafner and Marcel Levy reuniting in Israel.  Screen capture from ABC News video of Sidney Shafner and Marcel Levy reuniting in Israel.

70 Years of Friendship

Sidney Shafner served in the United States military in WWII and helped liberate the Dachau concentration camp in Nazi Germany. After liberation, Sidney’s infantry came across two survivors outside of the camp, Marcel Levy and Joe Sala. The two young men traveled with the infantry to Salzburg and Linz, then stayed with the United States soldiers in Vienna for nearly nine months. Sala and Levy became part of the unit, worked in the kitchen and even wore army clothing. Marcel and Sidney developed a close friendship, but in 1946 the pair parted ways. Sidney returned home to the United States and Levy immigrated to Israel. Both men went on to live their lives, married, had families but always remained friends.

In his testimony recorded in 1998, Sidney reflects on the countless letters the pair sent and how his friends and family from Denver would visit Marcel in Israel. Finally, after 25 years since Vienna, Sidney and Marcel were reunited in Israel. Sidney said it was overwhelming to see Marcel again, but the friends picked up right where they left off. By then they were both married, meeting each other’s wives and sharing stories and jokes.

Sidney remembers reuniting with Marcel and his family over the years including heartfelt memories of celebrating each other’s children’s bar mitzvahs.

At their last reunion around 1995, Marcel’s wife told Sidney, “You keep visiting us every 25 years.” On May 10, 2016, Sidney kept his promise.


Below watch a series of video clips about their friendship from Sidney’s testimony. I also encourage you to search more stories in the Visual History Archive, you never know what you might discover.

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Sidney Shafner on his friendship with Jewish survivor Marcel Levy

WWII liberator Sidney Shafner reflects on his friendship with Holocaust survivor Marcel Levy after the pair met when Dachau was liberated in 1945.


Deanna Hendrick