Abraham Klausner, Shoah Survivors’ Advocate

By Forward Staff and JTA

Published July 11, 2007, issue of July 13, 2007.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Rabbi Abraham Klausner, the first Jewish chaplain in the U.S. Army to enter the Dachau concentration camp after its liberation, died June 28 at his home in Santa Fe, N.M. He was 92.

He died several years after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, his wife, Judith, told The Associated Press.

Klausner had been a leading advocate for Holocaust survivors, collecting and publishing lists of survivors’ names in volumes called “Sharit ha-Platah,” or “Surviving Remnant,” to try to reconnect children of the Holocaust to their families.

Born in 1915, Klausner was the leader of Temple Emanu-El in Yonkers, N.Y., for a quarter-century. He retired in 1989. He was also the author of several books on Jewish topics, including a guide to performing interfaith weddings.

His most prominent role, however, was as an advocate for Jews living in displaced persons camps following the Allied Forces victory over the Nazis in 1945. Klausner arrived at Dachau shortly after the liberation and was assigned to handle death certificates and burials, but he soon became the point man for Jewish refugees struggling with hardship and despair, this time under the American military occupation.

Klausner quickly began making lists of survivors in order to reunite families, and he urged soldiers to provide food for the Jews. He also commandeered hospitals for the use of Jewish refugees and employed the military mail service, in defiance of U.S. Army regulations, to help Jews find their families, according to Alex Grobman, a historian who wrote about Klausner in his book “Rekindling the Flame: American Jewish Chaplains and the Survivors of European Jewry, 1944-1948.”

His efforts fighting the American military’s indifference to the plight of newly liberated survivors culminated when he accompanied President Truman’s special envoy, Earl G. Harrison, on an eye-opening tour of the displaced-persons camps. That trip led to the nomination of a special adviser for Jewish affairs at the military command.

Klausner’s decision to leave his military unit and devote his time to aiding the DPs was not without significant risk, Grobman said: “He could have ended up in jail or thrown out of the Army, but he didn’t care.”

Find us on Facebook!
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.