June 1, 1928 – Feb. 13, 2016
When Henry Goldman was just 10 years old, in 1938 in his native Germany, the Gestapo came for his father and took him to a concentration camp, although he later was released.
A year and a half later, the boy was put on a train in Munich bound for Genoa, Italy, and eventually a ship headed for the United States. His parents had to stay behind.
At the end of the 11-day voyage, entering New York City harbor, the young boy caught his first sight of the city’s skyline before the ship sailed past the Statue of Liberty, a significant moment for a Jewish lad escaping Germany at the beginning of World War II.
Mr. Goldman, a Holocaust survivor who spent most of his life in Buffalo, died Saturday in Canterbury Woods in Amherst, where he was under Hospice care following a brief illness. He was 87.
“He didn’t talk about it much,” one of his daughters, Barbara Goldman, said of her father’s flight from Germany. “But it was an important part of his life. I think ‘quietly proud’ would be a good way to describe it.”
Among other atrocities, the boy originally named Heinz Goldmann lived through Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, on Nov. 9, 1938, when the Gestapo arrested his father, set the family’s synagogue on fire and smashed the windows of Jewish-owned businesses. Experiences like that convinced his parents to allow him to flee Germany without them, in April 1940, as part of the Kindertransport effort to rescue children.
In a 7,000-plus-word memoir, Mr. Goldman explained his parents’ tough choice to send him to America alone.
“It was a hard decision for my parents to make, but they decided that at least one of us should leave as long as there was an opportunity,” he wrote. “We contacted our friends in Buffalo who immediately cabled back and said I would have a home with them for as long as it would take for my mom and dad to leave Germany and join me.”
About a year and a half later, in the fall of 1941, he was able to postpone his Bar Mitzvah until his parents came to Buffalo to celebrate the event at the old Temple Beth El on Richmond Avenue.
Mr. Goldman attended School 17 and Seneca Vocational High School before graduating from Lafayette High School in 1946. He enrolled in the University of Buffalo’s new Engineering School, but spent more time in the music lab listening to classical music than working on his geometry and physics classes.
Mr. Goldman left UB to work various jobs before entering the U.S. Army. As he later wrote, “In the summer of 1950 during the Korean War, I received a letter from your uncle and mine stating that he wanted to see me downtown for a physical exam and also to meet his tailor and be fitted for a new olive drab suit.” He was trained as a radio operator at Fort Gordon, Ga., before being sent abroad with the 43rd Infantry Division to, of all places, Germany.
After the service, Mr. Goldman held varied jobs – on the electric-organ line at the Wurlitzer plant in North Tonawanda, as an assistant clothing buyer, in real estate and in Sattler’s drug department.
The next 17 years, Mr. Goldman worked as transportation manager and co-owner at Samson Distribution Center, before a mild stroke in 1986 forced him to sell his interest in the business. He later retired at age 62.
Although he and his wife, the former Kathie Kavinoky, spent much of their time in Sarasota, Fla., over the next two decades before returning to Buffalo, Mr. Goldman was an active volunteer here with the American Red Cross, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Forty Plus, Daemen College, Sisters Hospital and Wende Correctional Facility. Much earlier, he had sung in a barbershop quintet known as The Quintones.
Mr. Goldman’s wife died last May after 59 years of marriage. Surviving are four daughters, Marjorie Corrow, Barbara, Ann More and Susan; and three grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Mesnekoff Funeral Home, Transit Road, East Amherst.
– Gene Warner