Sol Lurie was finally living a quiet, happy life in America, more than 15 years removed from the horrors of the Holocaust, when one day he noticed a young black man running for his life.
In hot pursuit were maybe a dozen white juveniles, some screaming racial slurs, Lurie recalled Wednesday. Lurie quickly shooed the young man being chased inside his home.
“We want to beat him up,” he recalled a member of the mob telling him. “Why?” Lurie responded. “He’s just as human as you and I.”
The would-be assailants quickly became angry, Lurie said. They threatened to assault him, then warned that they’d burn down his home with his 3-year-old daughter inside if he didn’t relent, he recalled.
Lurie still wouldn’t budge, and the group eventually gave up and left. He hosted his grateful young guest for dinner, drove him back to his neighborhood and gave him $5, Lurie said.
“In 1962, that was a lot of money,” he added.
Lurie, who will turn 81 on Monday, now lives in Monroe Township in Middlesex County. It wasn’t until 2004 that he first started speaking publicly about his experiences, surviving four years spent in six German concentration camps during World War II. And he finally decided to do so, Lurie said, at the repeated requests of a grandchild — and because he saw the same hate in the eyes of that young white mob that he once saw in his Nazi tormentors.
“I talk about my experiences for one reason, and one reason only. To illustrate what hate and discrimination can do,” Lurie told a group of several dozen people gathered at the Warrenbrook Senior Center Wednesday morning. “It’s still going on. There’s still hate and discrimination in the world. But at least now some people are doing something about it.