Ezra BenGershom

Ezra BenGershom

Born: 1922

Wurzburg, Germany

Ezra was born to a Jewish family in the Bavarian city of Wurzburg. In the summer of 1929, his father, a third-generation rabbi, accepted a position as a district rabbi, guiding 12 congregations in Upper Silesia. In primary school, Ezra, who showed a keen interest in chemistry, was often harassed by his schoolmates for being Jewish.

1933-39: Because of his "Nordic" features, Ezra was able to frequent places where Jews couldn't go. In 1938, one year after he entered a Jewish secondary school in Berlin, the Nazis began deporting Jews to concentration camps. Seeking a way to get out of Germany, he joined a Zionist training cooperative near Berlin where city youth were being prepared to immigrate to Palestine to found agricultural settlements.

1940-44: In 1941 Ezra fled to Berlin when the Nazis stepped up deportations of German Jews. To elude Gestapo patrols he constantly moved about the city and he fashioned a Hitler Youth uniform. With the swastikas and his blond appearance, Ezra passed as an Aryan. In April 1943 he escaped to Vienna using false documents stating he worked in the armaments industry. Then he made his way to Budapest, where he went underground until the Germans invaded Hungary. He fled to Romania where, in November 1944, he boarded a Turkish vessel to Palestine [the Yishuv].

In Palestine Ezra realized his dream to study biochemistry. For 25 years he headed the Clinical Chemistry Division of the Academic Children's Hospital in Rotterdam.

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