On April 13th' 2022, we had the great honor of participating in a very special ceremony: the unveiling of the monument for the liberation of the train near Magdeburg by the Americans. On that day we came full circle with a piece of history regarding our father, our family, but also the greater story of World War II. The ceremony was very emotional for us; standing at the exact spot where our father's liberation took place, being at the place where our father's new life began was overwhelming. The people we met that day, local people, Matt, Ron, Daniel, Anette, Johanna and all the warmhearted people who took part in making this memory come alive, was the highlight of the day for us. We thank all the wonderful people who participated in making this achievement, words cannot describe our gratitude and love towards them.

We read the following very emotional text at the ceremony:


Shalom, my name is Robi Stark and here, together with me, is my sister Hedva Saroussi -Stark. We are the children of Ervin Stark, who was on this specific train. We are very excited and moved to be here.

Our father Ervin Stark, was born in 1921 in Budapest and passed the Holocaust as a young adult, managing to run and escape 7 times from the Hungarians and Nazis.

He was sent to Bergen-Belsen on December 1944, placed in the Star Camp, and released from the train on this date, 77 years ago.

He immigrated to Israel in 1949, married our mother Aliza (may she live a long life) and established a loving family of two children and 5 grandchildren.

He passed away at the age of 93 on February 2015 after having a long good life.


To the story of the train, we were exposed by coincidence. During the 80’s he was interviewed for Steven Spielberg "SHOA" project that took video testimonies of survivors. In his testimony, he told the story about the liberation of the train by the Americans, but we didn’t pay attention to all the details of his story at that time.

In 2010 in the US, we were visiting my father's sister in-law, who knew my father's stories. She suggested that since my father was already 89 years old, my sister and I should make the time to talk to him and learn about his past. During one of our meetings, he showed us for the first time, his liberation certificate received by the US Army. We started to look into the details of the story and this is when I approached Matt Rozell.

We realized that he had been on the train. When I showed him the pictures of the train for the first time, he said it wasn’t his train since the pictures showed passenger cars and women and children and he was in a box car with men only. Only after Max sent me the passenger list, we all cried together and he believed.

Another twist came after he passed away. We found a diary he wrote during the war, which we didn’t know about. In it, he described all that had happened from the day the Germans entered Budapest in March 1944 until the day he returned to Budapest on November 1945. The diary is now with 'Yad Vashem' memorial museum for the holocaust in Jerusalem and we translated it into Hebrew and gave a copy to all the family members.


I would like to read to you, in his words, his description of the liberation moments:

The rumor said that we were going to be transferred to Switzerland in an exchange deal with the Germans, but of course nothing came out of it. Because on April 7th the Germansloaded us onto trains. Now that we again passed that barrier' we felt like we were saved, thinking all the time that if we cross that barrier, we will be fine. The Germans planned to move us to a camp called Sonderlager, two transports, the first which I was on was the luckier and we left on April 7th. The second left on April 9th and luck was on our side because the second train got bombed and more than fifty of our friends got killed, precisely when liberation date was close.

Liberation date, when we will be free from the rule of Nazi atrocities, was getting nearer. Up to this day we don’t know on who's order our train left Bergen-Belsen to Magdeburg. On the night of April 12th, we got a massive air attack, it wasn't so dangerous but the SS thugs disappeared and left the train in the open.

We were very anxious; we didn’t know what will happen to us. The pessimists among us said that the Nazis will come back and take us all down with machine guns.

This is how April 13TH dawned. Some brave ones went out and came back fast and said that everything is quiet. All through the night the sounds of machine guns and the thunder of cannons were pretty close.

It was around 9 o'clock in the morning when we heard great shouting. Here are the Americans, we are saved they cried. I and all the others were so weak, we couldn’t even get off the car, we barely managed crawling to the door. I will never, never forget the moment I saw the first American soldier. Something suddenly pressed my throat and we fell into each other's arms and couldn't speak for a long time; tears ran down my face, these tears had a lot of meaning. A whole year of suffering, yes, a whole year of suffering that began with forced labor, continued with the October events and deportation, all those bitter and hard months, now we are saved, hard to believe, very hard. As I'm writing this, I still find it difficult to believe it actually happened. We made it, but not all those 600,000 Jews taken to the gas chambers, only a small part was saved by the grace of God. Survivors from Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Bergen and the other inferno camps on earth.