Watch CBSN Live

American WWII vet who helped liberate Dachau reunites with survivor

World War II veteran reunites with freed Holo... 02:32

A World War II veteran who helped free thousands of survivors from a Nazi death camp has reunited with one of its former prisoners.

Seventy-one years after they first met, 94-year-old Sid Shafner and 90-year-old Marcel Levy reunited on an Israeli air force base, reports CBS News correspondent Vladimir Duthiers.

"I want to thank you with my heart to see you one more time," Levy said.

They hadn't seen each other in more than two decades. Shafner, who served in the 42nd Infantry Division in his early 20s, was one of the first U.S. soldiers to arrive at Dachau concentration camp. He and his unit helped liberate some 30,000 prisoners there in 1945. Levy had escaped and had lost his entire family.

But while running through the woods, he found Shafner and his unit and brought them to the camp. He later became their cook.

Shafner is on a 10-day mission through Poland and Israel called "From Holocaust to Independence." He is the last remaining soldier from his unit. Before leaving, he spoke with the CBS Denver station about the bittersweet journey.

"What my regret is, I shouldn't be the only one celebrating and taking the trip. These fellows should be with me, but they're not," Shafner said.

On Sunday, Shafner joined other veterans who freed prisoners from the camps. They traced the steps of those prisoners through the gates of Auschwitz with Holocaust survivors.

Shafner and Levy described a lifelong bond, forged on that day in Dachau.

"You'll always be one of us -- most the boys are not here anymore, unfortunately, but he's still one of us," Shafner said.

"You know everything what I have today is because of you," Levy said.

The last time Shafner and Levy were together was during Shafner's granddaughter's bat mitzvah in Jerusalem 21 years ago. Shafner returns to the U.S. on Friday, but said he plans on staying in touch with Levy through e-mail until they can hopefully meet again soon.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue