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August 27, 2018

Murray: My Moments with a Holocaust Survivor by Calvin Schwartz August 28, 2018

Murray: My Moments with a Holocaust Survivor by Calvin Schwartz August 28, 2018


Murray Goldfinger













Interviewing Murray in January


The title has ‘moments’ because there  just wasn’t enough time with Murray Goldfinger. The last seven years as a journalist, novelist, broadcaster at NJ Discover afforded a myriad of opportunities to meet an endless array of memorable, fascinating people. Murray was instantly indelible, unforgettable, heart-wrenching, precious, and hauntingly special. The day we met in January, I brought my wife on the interview because her father, like Murray, was born in Poland before THE war.

Backtrack; how did I get to Murray? Last October, 2017 at a Rutgers football tailgate with my son Neil, Professor Deborah Shuford introduced me as a journalist to several people. A woman mentioned, “You should interview my father, Murray, 91, a holocaust survivor with an amazing story. He still lectures at schools, churches, synagogues.” Something was inside me. A few days later, I began the process to meet Murray. Not easy. He’s busy. Several appointments made, cancelled, doctored, snowed and iced out. Suddenly, it’s January.

A cold late afternoon in Monroe, New Jersey; a vast land of senior citizen developments, homes, cold empty golf courses; Murray opens the door. We’re greeted by a tall, white haired, somewhat frail smiling man with this twinkle in his eye. The twinkle lasted for nearly three hours, briefly interrupted by a few tears and apologies for such. How can I accurately describe the feeling of sitting down next to him, and listening to the horrors of his life experiences in the Holocaust; losing his eight brothers and sisters, parents and grandfather, all murdered by the Nazi’s, yet, at the appropriate times of our talk, he was filled with warmth, love, twinkling eyes, reverence, gratitude and unlimited pride when it came to talking about his family.



Murray addressing a school assembly

My wife and I talked in the car all the way home; how Murray resonated, filled our senses with something unfelt before. A special loving sensitive brilliant gentle man, human; a great representative of our species. Now for elements of his life. There is so much out there on Google, You Tube, internet for you all to avail. My job here is to capture essences that moved me.

The town where he was from in Poland; his family had lived there for over 350 years. Just four Jewish families. Always anti-Semitism there. The Germans arrived when Murray was 13. No one expected things to get bad. In March, 1940, his family was forced to leave their home and move to another town where there was a restricted area. “At age 13, I was supposed to wear an armband, but I didn’t. I didn’t look Jewish…. then once, Germans were looking for me, so I hid in a tree.”

“From April and May, 1942, the Gestapo went on a shooting spree, killing Jews where ever they found them. One Gestapo went into a house with a woman and little baby. He started to cry. It must’ve reminded him about his home. He didn’t shoot them. His superior came in and asked why he didn’t shoot them. He said, “I can’t.” His superior said, “Either you do or I shoot you.” So, he gave him his gun thinking it was a joke. The Gestapo shot him.”

Murray spoke eloquently, looking warmly at my wife and me; both of us, frozen, staid, in disbelief what we were hearing. It’s not everyday you hear these things first person. Reality brings on some dizziness and wonderment. Why does Murray do this? We’d learn a few hours later how and why.

The past story reminded Murray of the time a child was crying from hunger to his mother. “A Nazi reached to give the child a candy bar, then shot him.”




Murray finished lecturing at another high school assembly

In 1943, he was taken to a labor camp. “Thousands of people were dragging luggage. The Germans were smart because they knew the Jews would take valuable things. Once on the train, the Germans took it all away.” His next sentence shook me as in riveting. “It was the first time I saw murders and shootings. Torture is worse than death…. 35,000 people were put on trains…. I saw my uncle and his wife march away.”

When he was shipped to Lipia work camp, he cried from joy, still living. “There was a man like Schindler (Schindler’s List) who saved a hundred Jews by using them to work…. My uncle and zeyde (grandfather) were in a camp. It was too far to ship all of them so the Germans killed them right there…. I went back there a few years ago to pay my respects. I lit candles and said kaddish (a memorial prayer).”  Murray was teary talking to us then composed. We were teary listening, wondering how he is able to talk to us.

“My brother escaped from a camp, was caught and executed.” Next, Murray got up and prepared the table for coffee and a snack. His housekeeper, European, made homemade blintzes with sour cream; an outrageous snack and embarrassingly, my wife and I almost finished the plate; the rest brown-bagged for the 20-minute trip home. By the third red light on the way home, I finished the bag of blintzes.

“I’ll tell you both something. The saddest thing in my life was seeing the people in the barracks when I arrived. There were 50 people, all skeletons, who probably wouldn’t live another day. A German said to me, “You’re going to look like this in five weeks. Remember my words.” I remember looking at the smoke from the chimneys. I would never forget this. I actually thought that they are better off than me. Their torture is over. Mine is beginning…. I became numb, but again, I was lucky and sent to a coal mine.”

Looking back, this next segment blew me away, beyond words and emotions, leading me to realize that there is a destiny, a reason to believe, a spirit, an element that our species just doesn’t understand, no matter how technical and advanced we think we are.

Murray was working in the coal mine and broke his shovel. A German officer accused him of sabotage, took a gun to his head to execute him. Somehow the bullet missed a direct head hit, caught part of his shoulder, but he was able to get up. A few days later, he got a terrible infection, 106-degree temperature.  At the camp hospital, they never bothered to treat Jews and rarely, if they did operations, it was always without anesthesia.

“The prison doctor was Polish and the biggest Jew hater. He came to me and said, “You don’t look Jewish. I’m going to help you. Don’t worry.” Of course, I had nothing to lose.”



A reminder of the Death Walk

The next day, Dr. Josef Mengele, known as the ‘Angel of Death,’ one of the most evil, murderous Nazi’s who conducted horrible experiments on prisoners, beyond comprehension, came to see Murray who never looked Jewish. “He asked me what happened. I told him a rock fell on me. The Polish doctor told Mengele that I had an important job in the coal mine. Mengele examined me. Of course, I had never heard of him. Later, I found out, he was in charge of who lived and died.”

Murray asked if I saw Schindler’s List. I said a few times. “Remember Amon Goeth?” He was played by Ralph Fiennes; Goeth used Jews as target practice from his balcony. “He used to drive by me in his Mercedes.” In 1945, Murray was in the death march, in cold and snow, for days, without food, on the way to Buchenwald. Along the way, someone threw him a piece of roast beef, which sustained him. Most people died. Finally, at Buchenwald, Murray, one of the few remaining survivors, was liberated on April 11, 1945 by the Americans. He told me that he met General Patton, and while talking to him, an American military officer came in, and said they had gathered 250 German officers. “Patton told him to do a good job. Later, the officer came back and said almost all the Germans were now killed.”

I asked Murray how he survived, remembering Viktor Frankl, also a Holocaust survivor, psychiatrist and author of bestselling book, ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ dealing with his surviving Auschwitz.  Murray’s eyes stopped twinkling, watery for a brief second. “I always prayed to my mother.”

Time was late. We had talked for hours. His energy and passion seemed limitless. This was my journalistic winding down period. “Murray, why are you so passionate, continue to lecture, travel, talk so much about the Holocaust?” His remark reminded me of one of my favorite quotes of all time, from philosopher George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”

Murray said, “If you forget the past, you forget everything and what people died for. There are people who want to deny the holocaust. Oh, and my biggest accomplishment, taking my three daughters to Poland.”



Interview (moments) finished

We did some photo-ops, a hug and a promise to come back. Those hours with Murray changed me. Hard to explain. I thought about him often in the weeks that followed. Spoke to two of his daughters, Susan and Linda and began formulating, structuring an NJ Discover TV Show featuring Murray (and stories about his beloved family, wife, and American life) and actually, another guest, a wonderful, accomplished Latino singer, song-writer, ¼ finalist on The Voice, Manny Cabo, a victim of hate, prejudice who also speaks out against bullying. This show was coming to life. Then a few delays, postponements, trips. Murray was excited about doing this TV Show; always looking to tell his story so its never forgotten.  Then Murray had some health issues. Then some NJ Discover production delays.

There are lessons I keep learning about life. Seize the moment. Life is too precious, fleeting. I never talked to my grandmothers about their coming to America for freedom. Just never made the time. It didn’t seem urgent. Finally, we targeted early August to do our NJ Discover TV interview with Murray. Linda messaged me that he smiled when she told him.


On August 5, 2018, my wife and I went to Murray Goldfinger’s funeral service. I will never be quite the same; enriched, saddened, and grateful for moments.


Calvin Schwartz   8-28-18 Holocaust


June 4, 2015

“Hold On To A Moment: A Journey to Jersey Centenarians: A Series. Meet Malcolm Murray (only 93) at ‘We Care Adult Care’ in Middletown. WWII Veteran with General Patton. bY Calvin Schwartz June 4th 2015.

Filed under: November 2009 — Tags: , , , — earthood @ 6:10 pm

“Hold On To A Moment: A Journey to Jersey Centenarians: A Series. Meet Malcolm Murray (only 93) at ‘We Care Adult Care’ in Middletown. WWII Veteran with General Patton.   bY Calvin Schwartz  June 4th 2015.

with Army Veteran Malcolm Murray (93)

with Army Veteran Malcolm Murray (93)


As a newbie journalist, I go through certain exercises prior to writing an article. Reflection on how the story came about leads me to what I call the ‘excavation;’ all that I need to do to dig the article out of my intestinal lining. Some in the field might just call it the ‘digging deep’ phase. Looking back on the subject matter, I marvel at the different abounding forces that got me involved in writing and interviewing centenarians or those approaching it.

My mother always told me that one day she wouldn’t be here. I never paid attention because the concept was remote and not real. She was always there. Suddenly one day she wasn’t.  I realized there was so much I needed to ask her; so much to learn about our roots in Russia, my grandparent’s arrival in America, what she did in the war (WWII) and familial things. So now I’ll never know.  I never sat down with my father-in-law and talked about WWII.  When I thought about talking, I kept putting it off. Thing is, I never talked to any aging relative about roots and history so now I’m devoid and lost and sorry. There is a lesson here. Take advantage and make the time. There’s a wonderful invention called palm-size recorder. It holds maybe a thousand hours and promises.




A few years ago through synchronicity and the universe, I became a journalist and just after that, a dirt road, a parking spot and a newspaper publisher who told me about Emily Cook’s 101st Birthday Party at Regal Pointe which I attended. Emily and I became friends for the next two years. She invited me back to her room; her life was fascinating. I was on a mission to be aware and to learn as much as I could about aging and aged.

Early this year, Emily’s (who passed last year) residence home called me about Hattie, turning 100. I went to that party and talked with her. A few months later, unrelated, I got a message from an executive of the State Theater in New Brunswick. His father, William, was turning 100. William is most amazing just like his stories were. Here is the link to my “William” article. ( )  We talked for an hour. Thusly my journalistic series evolved; “Hold On To A Moment: A Journey to Jersey Centenarians.” I now have my chance to do what I should’ve been doing for decades.


The Star Spangled Banner

The Star Spangled Banner


A few weeks ago my friend Darci Voigt Kennedy called me about ‘We Care Adult Care, Inc.’ in Middletown. For me adult day care would be a new learning experience. They have several nonagenarians and a centenarian for me to absorb. Just as I arrived and was taken into the main day room, they were singing the Star Spangled Banner; some stood at attention, hands over heart.  As this is day care, everyone is bused from home. The facility focuses on Alzheimer’s and dementia but many are vital, sharp and charming. Next, I was given a tour and immediately felt an unusual esprit de corps amongst personnel and the senior adults; it was a spirited, caring, active environment aptly named ‘We Care.’  Since this was part of Older Persons Month, the Mayor of Middletown, Stephanie Murray, walked around the room, individually greeting the fifty seniors and engaging each. One of the seniors told the mayor she was in the movie ‘Godfather.’ I can’t believe I forgot her name and role. I’m such a huge Don Corleone groupie.



Malcom Murray  engaging the Mayor of Middletown, Stephanie Murray

Malcom Murray engaging the Mayor of Middletown, Stephanie Murray

My reason for being there was in the back lunch room a distance away from the singing and music.  Malcolm Murray, 93, meticulously dressed, smiling broadly, waited. Affability consumed his face. He jumped up to shake hands and a photo-op. Malcolm was born in North Carolina. “I didn’t have a father so my mother raised me and my three brothers, Otto, David and Willie. My mother had a laundromat. I helped put them through school.” He spoke proudly about that. It was easy to hear it in his voice. I forgot his age. “You have to respect family.” That resonated with me. It still does. He mentioned a brother in the Navy, a para-trooper and the last brother was an engineer.

He joined the Army in 1942 and was trained at Camp Robinson in Arkansas. In Mid-October, 1942, Malcolm was deployed to England. “In 1944, I went to France as part of D-Day. I didn’t know whether to be scared or not. I was in a tank battalion under General George Patton. We got to within three miles of Berlin. I loved General Patton. I met him. He called me ‘son.’ I loved being in a tank.” Then Malcolm said something profound.  “I think everyone should be in the Army to protect the country and learn discipline.”



The Mayor engaging each senior.

The Mayor engaging each senior.

After the war he came back to North Carolina and worked on a fishing boat. Again Malcolm moved me. “I wanted my kids, Maxine and Malcolm, to have an education so I worked hard. This is what my wife and I talked about.” Eventually Malcolm moved to New Jersey and joined a local labor union out of Matawan. When I asked him what the greatest change he observed in his life, he said, “labor unions.” His favorite President was Franklin Roosevelt.

I told him he was in such good shape and so sharp to talk to. “How come?” I asked. “I worked hard all the time.”  Malcolm likes sports but mostly football and baseball and is a Dodgers and Mets fan. I like to probe techniques to longevity. He rarely ever smoked. As far as his favorite food, “Whatever I can get.” We both laughed. He likes Army movies because “I lived it.” “And music?” “I like everything. I like the Blues and Louis Armstrong.”

In the distance from the day room, I heard the disc jockey playing ‘Pennsylvania Polka’ which reminded me of the movie ‘Groundhog Day’ with Bill Murray (coincidentally). I love that movie. I’d love to do a bit of reliving myself so I asked Malcolm if I could come back to talk some more. “I’d like that,” he said with authority. And then our handshake which lingered; it meant we liked each other and looked forward.  And I do.

Calvin Schwartz   BRAND NAME PIX - Copy


                                                  For more information:  ‘We Care Adult Care’ call 732-741-7363 or






March 24, 2012

Gulliver University’s Football Message Board. (A shorter blog for a change) March 24, 2012





Gulliver wearing a red shirt. I feel the pain.

I’m in one of those crazy after all these years, stream of consciousness moods; so here goes, my adventures with Gulliver University, located here at East Brobdingham, near the oranges and candle wicks of my misspent youth. I suppose an author’s literary license warning; a lot of kitchen-sink paraphernalia that I’ll be throwing into this blog. I’ve got my reasons. Life is dull and short. I love good old Gulliver U. even though they’ve been trying for a century to extricate themselves from the wasteland of not being a brand name. Even Al Capone chose not to throw a speak-easy during prohibition into a store front that lined the cobblestone street of the Gulliver main thoroughfare. So Gulliver students remained alcohol free when other colleges were drunk with success on the 1920’s gridiron.

It’s modern day now. Gulliver students and alumni hang out on the football message board and stick their chests out proudly if they’ve achieved 74,000 or 22,000 posts. General George Patton, with the pearl handled revolver, awards special posthumous citations to inane time spent on the board. Good ole George. My parents were upset when he slapped that soldier.  I wondered how much time was involved in producing 74,000 posts so I pretended to write a post of several paragraphs which took five minutes. Then I brought out my Texas Instrument calculator from the 1970’s and figured that 74,000 posts took 256.94444444 days to write (24 hours a day) or 513.88 days if he works 12 hours a day and so forth. “Golly,” I said to myself.  The dude has spent a year or two of weekdays ripping people apart; some who are so well intentioned and replete with more Gulliver U spirit than most board folks.



Al Capone. He ignored Gulliver University


Then I watched a special video made with Gulliver U. pep band students for a national website, which in an abstract (you have to think to appreciate) way defines what college spirit and pep bands are all about. News of the video was posted on the Gulliver U. football message board and 240 people actually clicked, not the tens of thousands who should’ve watched their Gulliver U. pep band bring pride and esprit de corps to their college. Then an epiphany like a counter clockwise swirling bathtub drain when you stick your finger in the center to see if you can alter the history of mankind. The water manages to avoid the finger until it’s all down the drain. On the same football message board with close proximity to the post on the Gulliver U. pep band, someone posted a story about farting into the phone while talking to a credit card company that morning. The rest is not necessary here but 1600 message board loyalists spent their time responding and reading but NOT taking the 85 seconds to support their college and pep band by simply viewing the video.



General Patton's medal for time served on message board.







I wish these guys were from Gulliver. But knowledge is still good.

The epiphanies and lessons learned from the Gulliver Message Board: it explains why the Kyoto protocol (global greenhouse gas emissions) is still not signed by the world’s countries and why Gulliver U is what it is and do we have to bring Ebenezer Scrooge (Alastair Sim) back from his good old town to tell us more about what the future holds. Damn, I love Gulliver U and oranges, candle wicks and forty day old chocolate chip cookies in a microwave. Where’s Forrest Gump when I need him. Maybe life is not like a box of chocolates but more like a Gulliver U. message board. People used to call me Forrest Gump( I have a picture album called Forrest Gump)  because I get myself into unique situations by personally meeting some of the world’s most impressive intellects and interesting people; funny how I have no desire to meet the guy with 74,000 posts.











Dr. Ray Kurzweil and me. Forbes called him a "thinking machine"



Dr Michio Kaku (amazing astro-physicist and futurist) and me. a long long way from the dude with 74,000 posts on the Gulliver U football message board.















HooplaHa Videos and Article LINKS to Check Out. Very Interesting!!!!

Judy Feinstein: Female Pilot:




Ida Gonzalez: A Mother’s Journey to Light:


Common Sense Approach to Common Sense:



A Real College Pep Band Video (yes 85 seconds):














Also a very worthwhile cause to read up on:

Butterfly Circle of Friends.






Facebook:  Cal Schwartz


Twitter:  Earthood






book trailer. hey its 65 seconds longGulliver


Vichy Water book trailer 65 seconds long









If on Facebook check out this NJ Discover site:





LINKS TO VIDEOS.  Please Watch.


1.   ZOMBIE WALK   October 22, 2011




Nov 11, 2011



Nov 19, 2011

Randall Haywood and Victor Jones Interview from Chico’s House of Jazz Asbury Park



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