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Herman Shine, who escaped Auschwitz, passes away at 95

As he described in the testimony he gave to USC Shoah Foundation in 1997, it was one stroke of luck after another that allowed Herman Shine to become one of only a few hundred people to escape the Auschwitz death camp.

There was the guard who stood inches from his face, but failed to notice the first aid kit Shine was hiding in his pants. There was the stranger he encountered in the woods, who decided not to alert the authorities. And there was the German soldier that let Shine and his companion pass by as they wandered aimlessly looking for shelter. And once more, when Germans were looking for him at a farm, they failed to find him hiding in the barn.

Shine, who managed to elude certain death that during the Holocaust, died June 23. He was 95.

Born Oct. 4, 1922, in Berlin, Shine was among a group of Jews taken to the Sachsensausen concentration camp in 1939. Three years later, he and friend Max Drimmer were sent to Auschwitz. Both men were sent to the Auschwitz subcamp of Monowitz, where they were put to work. While working at a nearby camp, he met a half-Jewish woman named Marianne Schlesinger.

When the two men heard that they were to be killed in 1944, they devised an escape plan with the help of a Polish laborer. During a work detail, they hid in a shed under insulation used for the camp’s heating system.

More than a day later, they put on work clothes and snuck through an opening in the camp’s fence and made the perilous journey to the laborer’s home. But when Germans came looking for them, Shine decided to return to stay with the family of the girl he befriended.

When the war ended, Shine and Schlesinger were married and they moved near San Francisco, along with Drimmer. They all remained close until Drimmer died in 2012.

Shine is survived by his wife and daughter.

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Herman Shine on his escape from Auschwitz

Language: English

Herman Shine describes the many close calls he and a friend faced when he escaped from the Auschwitz concentration camp complex. It was a perilous journey, but he became one of the very few prisoners to make it out of the camp alive.