Dr. Oscar Haber, Polish Jew who survived Holocaust, dies at age 104

jwarren@herald-leader.comApril 7, 2014 

Dr. Oscar Haber of Lexington, a Polish Jew who survived the Holocaust and told generations of others about one of history's most horrible periods, died Saturday. He was 104.

Dr. Haber was never imprisoned by the Nazis. He and his wife, Fryda, obtained forged documents identifying them as non-Jews. When the Gestapo finally came for them in 1943, a farmer hid them for the rest of the war.

"Everything was miraculous," Haber said in a 1998 interview. "I cannot understand it today ... I am a great believer in destiny. How couldn't I be ... when I escaped death so many times just by being here and not there?"

The Habers immigrated to Belgium and then to Israel after the war. They came to Lexington in 1980 to be with family members. Fryda Haber died in 2005.

Dr. Haber, a dentist, was 29 when Adolph Hitler's forces invaded Poland in 1939, igniting World War II. He soon found himself working as a dentist in a prison camp for Jews, provided with papers that allowed him to come and go freely.

His mother, three sisters, a brother and a niece all perished in Nazi camps. Dr. Haber somehow survived and refused to give up to hatred. He said he saw unimaginable evil in his life, but also much good.

He noted that when he and Fryda Himmelblau got married, a man who once was a driver for Hitler drove Haber's in-laws to the wedding, risking his own life to do it.

"Not everybody who spits on you is your enemy," Dr. Haber once said. "Not everybody who embraces you is your friend."

In 2010, Lafayette High School drama teacher Cindy Kewin arranged for Dr. Haber to speak with students who were putting on a production of The Diary of Anne Frank. They sat in silence as they listened to the centenarian.

Dr. Haber said that speaking in schools was "always painful" but that he thought it was important to tell young people about the Holocaust.

"You are the future, and it depends on you," he told the Lafayette students. "Some of you will be in power. Remember that what happens shouldn't happen."

Visitation will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Milward Funeral Directors on South Broadway. Services will be at noon, followed by burial in Lexington Cemetery. Memorials may be made to Opportunity International, P.O. Box 3695, Oakbrook, Ill., 60555-9967.

Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255.

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