True love stories: Couple who met in concentration camp celebrate 63 years
A bitter how-we-met story with a sweet ending.
"You had to find a spot between corpses in order to lie down," Howard Kleinberg told ABC News. It was 1945, and Howard was in the Bergen-Belsen Nazi concentration camp in Germany. He was in charge of carrying bodies into pits — approximately 70,000 people died at Bergen-Belsen.
It's hard to believe that romance could manage to blossom in such a ghastly place. But it was at this concentration camp that Howard met Nancy, his future wife.
"I felt I had to lie down in order to meet my maker," Kleinberg said. He collapsed among the bodies, and that's when he heard the voice of a young girl.
"He's still alive. He's still alive, and we should save him."
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Nancy Kleinberg, the only one of her family to survive the Holocaust, recalls the first time she laid eyes on Howard:
"He was very sick, but I felt I wanted to do a good deed because I was looking for my family. Perhaps if I saved this boy, somebody would find my family."
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For the next few weeks, Nancy nursed Howard back to health. With the war still going on, it was impossible to find a doctor.
"The first week I was in the bunk sleeping most of the time," said Howard. "The second week I opened my eyes and I see this young girl near me."
The third week, Howard crawled to a nearby road, where he was picked up by the military and treated at a hospital. After being discharged, Howard decided to try to find Nancy at Bergen-Belsen. She wasn't there.
At the end of the year (1945), Howard moved to Toronto to live with family. He later discovered that Nancy lived in Toronto, too. Not sure whether she'd remember him, he decided to pay her a visit.
"I bought flowers and went to meet the girl who'd saved my life. I went over, and this beautiful lady opens the door."
She did remember him, and a few years later, the couple married. This month, they celebrate 63 "blessed" years together. They have four children, 11 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
"We came out from this experience, and we were blessed with this marriage," Howard said. "The world is good, life is so beautiful to live [with] respect and love."
Photo: Kleinberg family
love: friendship, dating, sex & marriage
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