Summing up his Holocaust experiences: "The whole experience was a complete nightmare, the way they treated us, what we had to do to survive. We were less than animals. Sometimes I dream about those days. I wake up in a sweat terrified for fear I'm about to be sent away to a concentration camp. But I don't hold a grudge because that's a great waste of time. Yes, there's something dark in the human soul. For the most part human beings are not very nice. That's why when you find those who are, you cherish them." Robert Clary, above, right,
Actor, author, survivor: the resilience of Robert Clary
. . . "A tattoo on his left arm left him marked as prisoner A5714. Clary was later transferred to the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany. Upon his liberation from Buchenwald on April 11, 1945, Clary learned that 12 other members of his immediate family, including his parents, had been sent to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland and did not survive the Holocaust. Three of his siblings had not been deported and instead survived the Nazi occupation of France.
"Clary reflects on how he survived the Holocaust, revealing that he sang to SS soldiers at Buchenwald every week with an accordionist. He believes that singing and entertaining along with his youth and good health allowed him to make it through the ordeal. Clary also notes that due to his age he did not fully understand the severity of the concentration camps.
"His experiences during the Holocaust and the loss of his loved ones affected him deeply. What especially troubles him is that he feels that he and others in his situation were not viewed as human beings by the Nazis, and that they were usually treated as even less than animals. Upon arriving at the Buchenwald camp, Clary and his fellow prisoners had to spend the first night in a shower room. They were terrified that they would actually be gassed to death since Nazi SS officers often used fake showerheads in concentration camp gassing chambers. Clary did not receive food for his first eight days at the camp, and he and other prisoners slept on top of one another only to wake up next to the corpses of those who did not make it through the night."