A veteran’s journey from Holocaust to hope at Mayo Clinic

Veterans Day is noticed yearly on Nov. 11 to thank and honor army veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.

After serving his nation with honor for 30 years, a retired Green Beret is now serving his group as a volunteer at Mayo Clinic.

And as Jason Howland experiences, this American appreciates life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness each day — for good cause.

Watch: A veteran’s journey from Holocaust to hope at Mayo Clinic

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video (4:17) is within the downloads at the tip of this submit. Please courtesy: “Mayo Clinic News Network.” Read the script.

Millions of sufferers, households and guests journey to Mayo Clinic for hope and therapeutic — every with their very own distinctive life story. Kurt, an 80-year-old Mayo Clinic volunteer, has a life story you want to hear.

“I was born in Stimmersdorf, which was within the Nazi-occupied territory of the Czech Republic,” Kurt says.

In 1943, when Kurt was nonetheless an toddler, his father was compelled by the Nazis to battle for the German military on the Eastern Front, as Kurt and his mom have been despatched to the focus camps.

“The one soldier said, ‘Leutnant, ich habe zwei Juden hier. (Lieutenant, I’ve got two Jews here.)’ And we were sent to Auschwitz,” Kurt says.

A 12 months later, despatched to Dachau. As the Allies approached in spring of ’45, Kurt and his mom have been shortly being transported by the Nazis to one other camp when the train derailed. They survived the crash and escaped.

“We kept going and kept going until we couldn’t hear any more dogs barking, screaming, shooting,” he says.

They spent 16 weeks on the run avoiding seize till the struggle ended. “We had to live off the land, so to speak,” Kurt says.

Meanwhile, Kurt’s father was a prisoner of the Soviets. “Trains would come from Russia and bring home POWs,” he says.

And throughout Hanukkah 1949 at the train station, “… it was the worst, coldest winter ever recorded. We heard a faint voice, ‘Ester, bist du das? (Ester is that you?)’ We turned around, it was my father,” Kurt says.

In 1956, the household immigrated to the U.S. “And we saw the Statue of Liberty,” he says.

They settled in Albany, New York. And as a younger man at 18, Kurt turned an American. “Tears came down my cheek, and I was so happy,” he says.

And he joined the Army.

“I wanted to give back, and I served. It was the only way I could thank this great country called the United States of America and the American people for having allowed me to come here,” Kurt says.

He served a 30-year army profession within the Army Special Forces as a Green Beret. “Freedom is such a powerful word,” Kurt says.

He is reminded each day what freedom actually means. “Freedom gives you hope,” he says.

A most cancers prognosis introduced him to Mayo Clinic, the place he is been handled for the previous 23 years by a number one knowledgeable in superior prostate cancer, Dr. Eugene Kwon.

“They gave me my life back. He spent as much time with me as possible, and I know with him, I was always in the best of hands,” Kurt says.

It impressed Kurt to transfer to Rochester, Minnesota, and volunteer at Mayo Clinic.

“Monday through Friday, usually from 6:45 a.m. to 11 o’clock,” he says. “This was the perfect opportunity. I knew there were patients coming through here, military people coming through here that I can relate to — not only talk to these people, but uplift their spirits, and instill in them that there is hope, that they’re in the right place.”

“Positive attitude, sunshine in the heart, and I use the gray matter God put between my ears to spread the joy, the happiness and goodwill, so to speak. This is why I’m supposed to be here,” Kurt says. “America gave me freedom, hope. Mayo Clinic did the same thing.”

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