Siegfried Halbreich, whose lifelong dedication and commitment to Holocaust education followed five and one-half years as a prisoner in World War II Nazi concentration camps, died of heart failure Sept. 17 at his home in Beverly Hills. He was 98 -- two months shy of his 99th birthday.
Halbreich was born in Dziedzice, in what was then Austria-Hungary and today is southern Poland. He worked as a pharmaceutical apprentice, served in the Polish army, graduated with a degree from the University of Cracow in 1935 and worked in Katowice as a practicing pharmacist until the outbreak of World War II.
In 1939, while trying to escape from German-occupied Poland to Yugoslavia, he was turned over to the Gestapo by a German spy in the Yugoslav army and deported to Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
In 1941, Halbreich was sent to Gross-Rosen for one year, then to Auschwitz for two years and finally to Nordhausen-Dora, where he remained until the Allied liberation in April 1945.
His work in the concentration camps varied from hauling rocks to sorting medications at an SS hospital. Due to his pharmaceutical training, he was assigned to work in the prisoners' hospital at Auschwitz-Buna, where he was more protected from the elements and dangers of the camp and where he was able to protect and save many from death.
Because he spoke English and five other languages, Halbreich worked as an interpreter and investigator with the American war crimes branch in preparation for the Nuremberg trials. He later became a board member of the Buna-Auschwitz Committee and was called many times to testify as a witness in the trials of Nazi war criminals. His testimony was also used in the trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1960.
Halbreich immigrated to the United States in June 1946 and settled in Cleveland. He moved to Los Angeles in 1959 and devoted the next 40-plus years to speaking to student and community groups around the world about his Holocaust experiences, always emphasizing the warning signals of discrimination, prejudice and injustice.
Locally, he was a regular speaker at Claremont McKenna College, UC Riverside and numerous high schools, churches and synagogues, in addition to the naval base in San Diego.
He also served as president of The 1939 Club in Los Angeles and led the effort to establish an endowed chair in Holocaust studies at UCLA. In 1991, he published his memoir, "Before-During-After."
Halbreich is survived by his wife of 62 years, Ruth, who is also a Holocaust survivor; daughter, Emily Tigerman of Sherman Oaks; son, Jeremy and daughter-in-law, Nancy, Dallas; granddaughter, Bobbye Tigerman, Santa Monica, and grandson, Reg Tigerman, Los Angeles.
Funeral services were held Sept. 21 at Mount Sinai Memorial Parks, Hollywood Hills.
The family suggested that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be sent to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, care of Sara Bloomfield, 100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, Washington, D.C., 20238.
-- Michael Berenbaum
Vera Adler died Sept. 15 at the age of 86. She is survived by her daughter, Dr. Dorit; and one grandchild. Sholom Chapels
Edith Asher died Sept. 7 at 71. She is survived by her sisters, Pearl (Dr. Melvin) Shiffman and Adrienne; and nieces and nephews. Malinow and Silverman
Sherman Axelrod (a.k.a. Jerry Sherman) died Sept. 16 at 78. He is survived by his wife, Marilyn; sons, Rick (Aria) Mazer and Jay; son-in-law, Bernard Segal; five grandchildren; sister, Rhoda (Stanley) Rubinstein; and brother, Harvey Axelrod. Mount Sinai
Lucie Bach died Sept. 3 at 77. She is survived by her husband, Maurice. Malinow and Silverman
George Benedict died Sept. 12 at 81. He is survived by his daughters, Star (Doron) Cohen and Margaret (Randy) Benedict-Phillip; and four grandchildren. Mount Sinai
Gil David Broydes died Aug. 10 at 40. He is survived by his brothers, David and Amnon Mizrahi and Don; and mother, Matilda Katz. Chevra Kadisha
Sidney Caplan died Sept. 7 at 91. He is survived by his wife, Doris; daughters, Frances (Norman Goldman) and Eileen Seaman; and son, Harry. Malinow and Silverman
Sarah Dick died Sept. 14 at 83. She is survived by her daughters, Louise (Herb) Goldman and Karen. Mount Sinai
Margaret Feldman died Sept. 18 at 68. She is survived by her husband, Herb; daughter, Susan (Eric) Breton; and grandchild, Addison Breton. Mount Sinai
Yale Frank died Sept. 19 at 93. He is survived by his wife, Ruth; daughters, Gloria (Robert) Bakst and Audrey (Richard) Koren; and five grandchildren. Mount Sinai
Bernard Garey died Sept. 21 at 93. He is survived by his daughters, Shoshana (Tod) Powell and Debbie; son, Peter (Rachel); eight grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. Mount Sinai
William Grayer died Sept. 14 at 75. He is survived by his wife, Elinor; daughters, Aliza, Miriam and Sharon; six grandchildren; and sister, Rosalie. Groman
Siegfried Halbreich died Sept. 17 at 98. He is survived by his wife, Ruth; daughter, Emily Tigerman; son, Jeremy (Nancy Strauss); and grandchildren, Bobbye and Reg Tigerman. Mount Sinai
Shirley Beatrice Halter died Sept. 4 at 86. She is survived by her daughter, Claire; and two grandchildren. Groman
Phyllis Kipnis died Sept. 16 at 80. She is survived by her husband, Harold; son, Eugene; daughters, Holla and Robin; seven grandchildren; and sister, Rita. Groman
Randall Jonathan Klein died Sept. 4 at 45. He is survived by his nephew, Jared Cordova; sisters, Melanie and Alisa; father, Francis; and mother, Shirley. Chevra Kadisha
Stuart Levin died Aug. 29 at 88. He is survived by his wife, Jane; sons, Peter (Ruth) and Michael (Lisa); and brother, Barry. Hillside
Hanne O'Dell died Sept. 16 at 65. She is survived by her sons, Sean (Shantei Hindley) and Kevin (Kate); daughter, Danielle Sharp; and three grandchildren. Mount Sinai
Solomon Olinka died Sept. 10 at 79. He is survived by his wife, Juliana; daughter, Liza MacNamara; sons, Adam (Sue Ann) and Jaco; and one grandchild. Malinow and Silverman
Rose Plonchak died Sept. 13 at the age of 71. She is survived by her husband, Hesh; daughters, Leah (Irv) Rubin and Sherry (Isaac) Chernotsky; and five grandchildren. Sholom Chapels
Michele Ross died Sept. 13 at the age of 57. She is survived by her brother, Michael (Markie); and two nieces. Sholom Chapels
Dr. Leonard Sadoff died Sept. 1. He is survived by his son, Dr. Ben; and daughter, Roxanne; and three granddaughters.
Martin Serata died Sept. 19 at the age of 88. He is survived by his wife, Ethel; sons Arthur and John; and three grandchildren. Sholom Chapels
Pearl Dee Silverman died Sept. 16 at 89. She is survived by her husband, Edward; daughters, Barbara (Ron) Robinson and Susan (Robert); son, Michael (Cathy); grandsons, Todd (Stacey) and Brad (Michelle) Robinson; and great-grandson, Max Robinson. Mount Sinai
Shayndy Smolker died Aug. 23 at 88. She is survived by her husband, Paul; daughter, Toby (Mike) Salter; son, Gary (Susan); seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Malinow and Silverman
Pearl Weinstein died Sept. 4 at 80. She is survived by her husband, Murray; daughters, Anita, Sheila and Sandra; and eight grandchildren. Groman
Cay Weitzman died Sept. 16 at the age of 77. He is survived by his wife, Ruth; and son, Ted. Sholom Chapels
Anne Wolff died Sept. 21 at 85. She is survived by her daugthers, Phyllis West, and Marcia (James) Campbell; and grandson, Matthew West. Mount Sinai