Holocaust survivor uses banknote clue to find the family of 'kind' soldier who liberated her

In 1945, Lily Ebert, now 90, was liberated from a German munitions factory where she worked as slave labor after being transferred from the Auschwitz death camp.

A few weeks after being liberated, an American soldier shared some words of positivity with her, "The start to a new life. Good luck and happiness," he wrote on a German banknote.

The simple gesture was life-changing for Ebert and the banknote became one of her most treasured keepsakes.

"This soldier was the first human being who was kind to us," she told NBC News. "It was the first time after this terrible life that somebody was kind and I knew that somebody wants to help."



Lily Ebert is the woman with the soldier's arm around her.via Dov Forman / Twitter

Ebert's mother, brother, and sister were all killed at Auschwitz. Her two younger sisters were liberated with her at the munitions factory. She believes that she survived the ordeal due to her responsibility to take care of her sisters.

"I promised myself that if I survived by some miracle, I would tell the world what happened there," Ebert said. "The next generation and next generations should know the story so that something like that should not be repeated to any human being ever."

Ebert kept the banknote in a photo album at her home in London where it was discovered by her great-grandson, 16-year-old Dov Forman. Forman had taken it upon himself to start documenting his great-grandmother's stories as a survivor so they would never be forgotten.

"My great-grandma obviously isn't going to be around forever and her story will eventually become my whole family's responsibility to carry on," Forman said.

Intrigued by the transcription on the banknote, Foreman tweeted out a photo of the bill along with photographs of the unknown soldier and Ebert taken a few days after liberation.

The only clue to the man's identity was an inscription on the banknote that reads: "Assistant to Chaplain Schacter."

The "Chaplain Schacter" eluded to on the bill was Chaplain Herschel Schacter, an American Orthodox rabbi who served as a chaplain in the Third Army's VIII Corps. Schacter participated in the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp and helped relocate survivors, including Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel.

The tweet went viral and Forman received responses from all over the world. Eventually, he learned the identity of the solider, Private Hyman Shulman from New Jersey.

In late 1944, Shulman was removed from the front lines after being injured in the Battle of the Bulge and assigned to to serve as Assistant to the Jewish Chaplain to the US Army, Rabbi Herschel Schachter.

Unfortunately, Shulman died seven years ago at the age of 91.

However, Forman was able to locate and contact Schulman's children in New York and bring the families together digitally through Zoom. "It was really special. It felt like we were family, we just clicked," Forman said.

Image: Lilly Ebert and Dov Forman (right) hold a Zoom call with Arlene and Jason Schulman, descendants of the American GI that liberated Lilly during the war, along with Lilly's daughter and husband Bilha and Julian Weider.via Dov Foreman

"I know that this soldier told his family, he wrote to his family every day the stories that he saw," Ebert said. "With that, I feel some connection to them."

Shulman wrote over 1100 letters home during the war. Some of them are archived at POBA.

The families re planning another Zoom call soon and have discussed meeting in person when coronavirus travel restrictions are lifted.

"I hope one day that I will meet them personally, I would very much like to have that," Ebert said.

It's one thing to see a little kid skateboarding. It's another to see a stereotype-defying little girl skateboarding. And it's entirely another to see Paige Tobin.

Paige is a 6-year-old skateboarding wonder from Australia. A recent video of her dropping into a 12-foot bowl on her has gone viral, both for the feat itself and for the style with which she does it. Decked out in a pink party dress, a leopard-print helmet, and rainbow socks, she looks nothing like you'd expect a skater dropping into a 12-foot bowl to look. And yet, here she is, blowing people's minds all over the place.

For those who may not fully appreciate the impressiveness of this feat, here's some perspective. My adrenaline junkie brother, who has been skateboarding since childhood and who races down rugged mountain faces on a bike for fun, shared this video and commented, "If I dropped in to a bowl twice as deep as my age it would be my first and last time doing so...this fearless kid has a bright future!"

It's scarier than it looks, and it looks pretty darn scary.

Paige doesn't always dress like a princess when she skates, not that it matters. Her talent and skill with the board are what gets people's attention. (The rainbow socks are kind of her signature, however.)

Her Instagram feed is filled with photos and videos of her skateboarding and surfing, and the body coordination she's gained at such a young age is truly something.

Here she was at three years old:

And here she is at age four:


So, if she dropped into a 6-foot bowl at age three and a 12-foot bowl at age six—is there such a thing as an 18-foot bowl for her to tackle when she's nine?

Paige clearly enjoys skating and has high ambitions in the skating world. "I want to go to the Olympics, and I want to be a pro skater," she told Power of Positivity when she was five. She already seems to be well on her way toward that goal.

How did she get so good? Well, Paige's mom gave her a skateboard when she wasn't even preschool age yet, and she loved it. Her mom got her lessons, and she's spent the past three years skating almost daily. She practices at local skate parks and competes in local competitions.

She also naturally has her fair share of spills, some of which you can see on her Instagram channel. Falling is part of the sport—you can't learn if you don't fall. Conquering the fear of falling is the key, and the thing that's hardest for most people to get over.

Perhaps Paige started too young to let fear override her desire to skate. Perhaps she's been taught to manage her fears, or maybe she's just naturally less afraid than other people. Or maybe there's something magical about the rainbow socks. Whatever it is, it's clear that this girl doesn't let fear get in the way of her doing what she wants to do. An admirable quality in anyone, but particularly striking to see in someone so young.

Way to go, Paige. Your perseverance and courage are inspiring, as is your unique fashion sense. Can't wait to see what you do next.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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