Salamo Arouch was a Greek-Jew who was taken captive during WWII and sent to Auschwitz. It just so happened the German Commander of the death camp was an Olympic heavy-weight boxer and he recognized Salamo as one of the light-weight boxers from the Greek’s Olympic team.
Salamo had to perform hard-labor during the day but he was ordered to compete in boxing matches every few nights where the boxes were made to fight until the other man couldn’t get up. As long as Salamo won he’d live. It’s estimated he fought and won around 280 fights; this while be
malnourished and ill at times with dysentery. He only weighed 140 pounds and in one match knocked at a fighter almost twice his size in less than 30 seconds. His major incentive for fighting was to get a large loaf of bread after each fight and take it back to his brother and father.
When his family arrived at Auschwitz the men and women were separated. The pretty women which included his brother’s newly wedded wife were taken to serve the German soldiers. If any of these women became pregnant they were killed so some of the captives became capable of
performing abortions; of course not all were successful but the pregnant women would’ve died anyway. Some women wanted to die so they didn’t even worry about having an abortion.
Anyone who couldn’t serve a purpose because they were too old, sick, or young, were sent to the gas chamber then cremated which included Salamo’s mom. Of course the men didn’t know all this was happening until fellow prisoners began giving them the details.
One day Salamo’s brother was put on a task force to place bodies in the incinerator that were killed in the gas chambers. He and his detail refused to do it and were killed. Salamo’s dad and other older men were taken away one day and were shot and pushed into mass graves because they weren’t productive. Salamo at this point had lost everyone which made him even more
successful in the boxing ring. He no longer fought for bread but instead out of principle to not let the Germans break his spirit.
One day he and several other prisoners were put on the same detail his brother was on. They were waiting for this opportunity because they had put together a plan to destroy the incinerator.
While working, one of the men opened up one of the incinerator doors and threw an explosive in. They took off running and when the bomb went off it did its job including destroying some of the gas chamber.
Miraculously two men survived and one of them was Salamo. The Germans didn’t kill him and instead kept him captive because of his reputation; plus they didn’t know for sure that he was in on it because he never confessed. Finally one day the jail cell was opened and Salamo was told the war was over and he was free to go.
While searching for family members at the various prison camps, Salamo met a survivor by the name of Marta Yechiel and they immediately fell in love. They moved to Israel and had four children and several grandchildren. It just goes to show that any of us can survive tragic
situations and still come out on top. As usual, it’s just a matter of what we do with what we have.