Polish jew Max Edelman says he spent time in several German camps during the war.
He claims he was blinded due to a vicious beating from camp guards, who beat him for no other reason than pure "sport."
Even though, as the story goes, a blind inmate would have been immediately sent to the ovens, "somehow" Edelman managed to survive. It was a miracle.
Just prior to his liberation, Max was taken on an eight-day forced death march without food or water. Miraculously, he survived this too.
The one harrowing experience Max can't get rid of is one night when the Germans had a party, and for entertainment had a German shepherd attack and kill a camp inmate by tearing his throat to pieces.
From then on, Max was deathly afraid of dogs. This prevented him from getting a guide dog for years until he finally mustered the courage and got his own guide dog, Calvin, a chocolate Lab.
After the war, Max experienced guilt "for his survival." But somehow he coped.
Edelman emigrated to the United States in 1951, found a job as a X-ray darkroom technician, and now, of course, tells his Holocaust story to young children. He speaks two or more times a week, after decades of silence.
Max Edelman, 87, speaks to a group of eighth-grade students 
Blinded by Nazis, guided by a doghttp://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-07-28-guide-dog-holocaust_N.htm
By Sharon L. Peters, Special for USA TODAY
Max Edelman, a sprightly gentleman with a potent laugh, huge social network and vast array of interests, surges through life. At 86, he figures he's got too much to do to slow down. Blind for decades, he receives a little help from Tobin, a placid black Lab.
Like each of the thousands of service dogs, Tobin has been bred and trained to help keep his owner safe and independent. And like the thousands of people who are paired without charge with a dog, Edelman has undergone training to make the most of the union.
But Edelman was far from typical when, in 1990, he traveled from his home in Lyndhurst, Ohio, to Guiding Eyes for the Blind in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., to get his first-ever guide dog. For one thing, he was nearly 70. Back then, says Guiding Eyes' Graham Buck, almost all clients were much younger, mostly kids blind as a result of premature births.
But it wasn't Edelman's age that was the biggest challenge. It was his back story.
The things he'd seen and endured would have destroyed most men — and did, in fact, kill millions. He suffered years of starvation and beatings and spirit-crushing cruelty, including an eight-day forced march just before the U.S. Army arrived to liberate the German camps. He spent 192 grueling hours without food or water, during which 1,700 of the 2,500 prisoners collapsed and were shot by the side of the road.
Somehow Edelman, a Jew sent to Nazi concentration camps when he was 17 and freed at 22, managed to survive. He was blinded in a vicious beating by guards —"for no real reason. It was sport for them, they enjoyed inflicting pain" — months before his rescue.
He was trained as a physical therapist, married and immigrated to the USA in 1951. He landed a job in the X-ray department at the Cleveland Clinic and built a life — more or less successfully moving beyond the memories of the camps, including the death of his father.
He coped reasonably well with survivor guilt and was largely able, except at night when nightmares invaded his sleep, to deflect the awful images that were the last he would actually see.
There was one thing he couldn't vanquish: the memory of one night in the camp.
The commandant was holding a party for like-minded people. As part of the evening's entertainment, he ordered that several prisoners be lined up. Edelman was among them. The commandant eyed the men, made a decision about who would die and ordered his massive German shepherd to attack. The dog lunged, grabbed the prisoner by the throat and killed him.
From that night forward, Edelman's fear of dogs was intractable.
But when he retired, he wanted to relieve his wife of the job of taking him everywhere he wanted to go. A guide dog would be ideal.
He mustered his courage, attended the 26-day Guiding Eyes training, was coached patiently through his dog phobia, and went home with Calvin, a chocolate Lab.
The two had the skills to mesh as a team, but Edelman couldn't connect, didn't really know how to trust the animal. He was appreciative of Calvin as a "tool to get around," he says, but formed no bond. Guiding Eyes experts provided additional help.
"If I failed at this, it would not be for lack of effort," he says.
But Calvin knew something was off. The dog had been around people all of his two years; he knew how things were supposed to be, and this wasn't it. He lost weight and was depressed. The vet said he sensed Edelman's emotional distance.
One day, at a crosswalk, Edelman heard the traffic stop and gave Calvin the "forward" command. A driver made a sudden, sharp right turn and was upon the two without warning.
Watchful Calvin stopped instantly, and the two returned to the sidewalk. "He had saved both of us from serious injury," Edelman says. He hugged Calvin, and the barrier dissolved. "From that day on it was love. We both blossomed."
Calvin served him well for nine years and retired with an adoptive family. Then came Silas, a yellow Lab who forged a solid bond with Edelman; he died last year. Edelman misses Silas deeply. "When we were on our 3-mile walks and I'd get lost in thought and have no idea where we were, he'd get me home."
But he and Tobin, who were paired earlier this month, are bonding. Last week, the dog accompanied Edelman to a college campus where he spoke about the Holocaust. Edelman accepts two or more such invitations most weeks, after decades of silence. "Survivors are few in number now," he says, "so we have to bear a larger load."
Tobin eases the way.
A Blind Jew In A Death Camp
I sort of think that if you were a blind Jew in a 'Death Camp', you would be in an oven in 15 seconds. So maybe Max is stretching the truth, or maybe there were no 'Death Camps', or both.
Extended version of Max's tale