After surviving the Holocaust, read about how Felix and Bluma began a new life in Columbia, South Carolina.
The Red Cross took Bluma to Holzhausen Hospital in Germany for treatment. After a short stint in the hospital, she was moved to the Displaced Persons (DP) Camp in Landsberg Germany.
After his liberation from Buchenwald, Felix Goldberg was also taken to the same camp. It was there that the two met.
Read more about Displaced Persons Camps here.
As he would tell it years later, it was love at first sight. They were married on July 8, 1946. He was 29 years old; she was 19.
July 8, 1946
It was a double wedding ceremony: Bluma’s sister, Cela, had also met her future husband at the DP camp, so they got married on the same day.
Lists of all persons of United Nations and other foreigners, German Jews and stateless persons.
Bluma’s sister had previously emigrated with her husband, David Miller, to the United States so she convinced them that they should join them there. In fact, authorities wanted to reunite family members. So they started the paperwork process which would allow them to resettle in the US. Their first son, Henry, was born in 1948 in Germany.
In order to travel to the United States, at that time, displaced persons needed to have sponsors. With the aid of the Hebrew Immigrant Aide Society, sponsors were located in the Jewish community of Columbia South Carolina where they would help the Goldbergs settle into their new home.
By all accounts, Columbia embraced its role in welcoming the displaced persons: “Representatives of the synagogues, Zionist organizations, the University of South Carolina Hillel, the Hebrew Benovelent Society, and B’nai Brith joined forces to form an executive committee which mobilized the resources … ” (Source) “With the help of a USNA (United Service for New Americans) advisor, the Jewish community of Columbia, which numbered only 250 families, set up committees to find housing, employment, hospitality, education, health services and free legal advice.” (Source) Columbia, it appeared, was ready and eager to welcome the new residents.
The Goldberg family departed Bremerhaven, Germany traveling to the United States by ship (the General WM Black), pictured right, arriving in New Orleans on September 20, 1949. A New Orleans newspaper article made note of the arrival. [Watch a video of the first DPs boarding the maiden voyage of the Gen WM Black en route to the United States here.] On the ship’s manifest, Felix listed his occupation as “clerk” while Bluma declared herself to be a “dressmaker.”
In October of that year, they boarded a train for their final destination: Columbia South Carolina.
Bluma recalled her feelings upon arrival:
“I was a young wife and mother of a two year old child, without even a dollar in my pocket. I was scared and unable to speak English.”
1950 – 1957
1952: Luxembourg Agreements Signed
Signed by West Germany and the Claims Conference (and Israel in parallel), the agreements led to legislation for indemnification for the material damages to Jewish individuals and to the Jewish people caused by Germany during the Holocaust.
The agreement was the first of many secured by the Claims Conference in order to obtain a small measure of justice for Jewish victims of Nazi persecution globally.
In January 1950, the Goldbergs applied to become naturalized citizens of the United States. In May 1955 they were granted citizenship status.
Their second son, Karl was born in 1953 and a daughter, Esther, was born in 1957.
Felix’s first job was as a janitor. Later he worked in a print shop and in a floor covering business. Eventually he was able to save enough money to start his own business. In 1957 the Goldbergs, opened The Tile Center in Columbia, a business still active today and managed by the family. The Goldbergs loved their new home and community.
In September 1959, The State newspaper (and others in the state) published “For Felix Goldberg, The Road to SC Filled With Horror,” in which he was interviewed about his Holocaust era experiences.
1990 – 2000
In 1992, Bluma’s story was included as part of a curriculum– South Carolina Voices: Lessons from the Holocaust— produced by the SC Department of Education in conjunction with the SC Humanities Council.
Later they would share their stories with others and during the annual Yom HaShoah (Day of Remembrance) observances.
Both were interviewed in 1991 at length for “Seared Souls,” South Carolina ETV’s Holocaust education resource website and later by Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Visual History Archive Project (1998).
In one of those interviews, Felix Goldberg said:
“I think I’m a fairly happy guy, and I am a grateful guy. I live in the best country in the world, the USA, with the best wife in the world, Bluma. But I carry inside me a very unpretty past, and I worry that what I experienced in my past others should not experience in their future. Let us all appreciate the freedom we have and guard it and preserve it at all costs.”
In her interview, Bluma told the interviewer:
“As you are probably aware, to review these events in my life is very painful to me. I bear this pain willingly if and only if you the viewer and you the student take it into your heart or your experience, too, so that somehow you and I will have contributed together to diminish the possibility of it ever happening again to any people from any people. Thank you.”
In May 1995, the State of Israel Bonds organization presented “The New Life Award” to the Goldbergs -“whose dedicated efforts and support to build a new life for the Jewish people and the state of Israel serve as an eloquent remembrance of the Holocaust and the six million martyrs in whose memory we proclaim: preserve and remember.”
On May 26, 1999, Felix Goldberg was named “Ageless Hero” by Blue Cross/Blue Shield South Carolina.
On May 2, 2000, Felix Goldberg spoke at the annual Yom Hashoah (Day of Remembrance) ceremony and The State newspaper carried this story.
READ FULL TALK: Felix Goldberg Talk On Yom Hashoah 2000
Felix Goldberg (of blessed memory) died at age 83 in November 2000.
2001 – Present
In 2001, a memorial to the Holocaust (pictured below) was dedicated in downtown Columbia’s Memorial Park. The front side of the monument features a timeline of events during and leading up to World War II and a map depicting the locations of the Nazi concentration camps. The back side of the monument features the names of liberators and Holocaust survivors from South Carolina.
During a 2003 visit with students at Orangeburg Preparatory School, Bluma discussed her Holocaust experience and answered questions.
On April 15, 2007, Bluma Goldberg spoke at the annual Yom Hashoah (Day of Remembrance) ceremony.
In May 2012, Karl Goldberg and his wife traveled to Poland in search of his family’s history before and during the Holocaust. He wrote about that trip and what they saw here. (see page 7)
In September 2013, Bluma received the Americanism Award from the USC Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. At that ceremony, captured in a video by The State newspaper, she also received the Order of the Palmetto– South Carolina’s highest civilian honor for her courage and perseverance.
In 2017, WIS-TV followed Karl Goldberg and his first cousin, Henry Miller, as both spoke about their parents during an appearance at Lugoff-Elgin High School.
In February 2019, this website project was presented to educators gathered at the SC Council for Social Studies annual conference in North Charleston SC. Karl Goldberg spoke and his prepared remarks can be read here.
Bluma Goldberg (of blessed memory) died at age 94 in January 2021.
The South Carolina General Assembly in its 124th Session on 27 January 2021 passed a House Resolution to express their profound sorrow upon the passing of Bluma Tishgarten Goldberg of Columbia, celebrate her life, and extend the deepest sympathy to her family and many friends.
“He Defeated Hitler by Surviving”
The Goldbergs spoke repeatedly and often how fortunate and blessed they were to come to South Carolina and to live and work and contribute to their community and raise their family.
Their children: Henry, Karl and Esther have spoken numerous times and places about their parent’s experiences. Many school students have had the opportunity to not only hear the Goldberg’s story, but also ask questions. The Goldberg children believe, as their parents, that the Holocaust should not be forgotten.
Henry authored the essay “He Defeated Hitler by Surviving” in an issue of The State newspaper’s annual Holocaust education supplement.
November 10, 2018
On Floor: (left to right) Harry Goldberg, Felix Goldberg, Jack Goldberg
Seated: (left to right) Phillip Goldberg, Bluma Goldberg, Brian Roth, Robin Goldberg Roth; Margo Goldberg; Karl Goldberg
Standing:(left to right) Maple Dynan, Brigid McCreary, Rachel Greenberg, Sam Greenberg, Esther Greenberg, Ira Greenberg, Adam Goldberg, Toni Goldberg,
Gloria Goldberg, Henry Goldberg, Samantha Goldberg, Jason Goldberg
Not Pictured: Leah Davis, Richard Davis, Ethan Davis