U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum looking for survivor stories
Old documents in Boca Raton tell remarkable story of courage
BOCA RATON, Fla. —A curator from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum was in South Florida recently after museum officials issued what they termed a call for action.
Officials are traveling the country looking for survivor stories, while the survivors are still around to tell them.
“Because it’s not just about preserving the original materials,” said Kyra Schuster, a curator at the museum. “What are the stories behind them? Who were these people?”
Schuster said she felt she might find those answers at the Sheres home in Boca Raton.
Rob Sheres grew up knowing his grandfather, Tuvia “Ted” Sheres, had survived the Holocaust, but said his grandfather never talked about it much.
About a year ago, Rob Sheres’ aunt gave him a bag full of old documents.
“I had no idea what to expect,” Rob Sheres said, surrounded by those documents. “All I knew was I had a bunch of old papers. I had no idea what they were. They were identification cards and passports and documents written in languages that I didn’t speak.”
With help from the internet, Rob was able to translate what he’d found.
He said he couldn’t believe the story it told.
Ted Sheres was better known in the war as “Tevko the Tiger.” He escaped a Nazi ghetto in Lithuania and spent the war living in the Russian forest, leading other men known as the Partisans.
The Partisans used guerilla warfare, constantly attacking the Germans.
The Sheres family said every Nazi knew Tevko the Tiger, but nobody could catch him.
“He had a price on his head in Germany and Lithuania,” said Ted’s son, Allan Sheres. “They had a dead or alive of I don’t know how many marks.”
Also in the pile of documents Rob Sheres had was a story about his grandmother, Dina Sheres.
Her entire family was killed in the Holocaust, and at only 15 years old, she walked alone from Poland to Italy, dodging Nazi soldiers at every step.
She and Ted Sheres worked together after the war, smuggling survivors to Israel.
“We say we have to fight to survive,” Allan Sheres said. “But that’s really fighting to survive.”
Curator Kyra Schuster told the Sheres family this wasn’t the first time she’d heard of Tevko the Tiger. The museum already had a sketch of him, drawn by an artist with the Partisans during the war.
Now, Schuster and the Holocaust Museum have the story surrounding that sketch.
“Now we can say, ‘This is who Tuvia Sheres was. This is history. This is what happened to him. This is what happened to his wife,'” Schuster said.
The Sheres family has agreed to donate all their documents to the Holocaust Museum.
“Without proof, these are all just stories. This is proof,” Allan Sheres said, referencing the documents. “This is documented evidence.”
The official donation will happen at a luncheon on Feb. 22 at the Boca Raton Resort & Club.
The Sheres family is chairing the luncheon, which is called the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum 2016 South Florida “What You Do Matters” luncheon.
Museum officials said they hope the donation from the Sheres family will inspire others to tell their stories of the Holocaust.