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Holocaust survivor's 100th birthday marked with drive-through parade

CBS News logo CBS News 5/25/2020 CBSNews

A North Texas Holocaust survivor is celebrating reaching the century mark. "I was born in 1920, now it's 2020," Heinz Wallach told CBS Dallas. His daughter, Tamar Leventhal, organized a parade for her father's birthday with the help of the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum.

"I've been emotional the last two weeks putting it all together and realizing how many people love my father," said Leventhal.

Wallach's birthday celebration Sunday was marked with a parade of cars and visitors social distancing and wearing their masks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"I'm speechless. This is unbelievable, and I have to take this in my mind," Wallach marveled.

a person smiling for the camera: Holocaust survivor Heinz Wallach, of North Texas, at the May 24, 2020 pandemic-era parade his daughter organized to celebrate his 100th birthday. © Provided by CBS News Holocaust survivor Heinz Wallach, of North Texas, at the May 24, 2020 pandemic-era parade his daughter organized to celebrate his 100th birthday.

"He believes that you can persist, you just have to follow the rules, do what you need to stay as safe as possible, but not panic," Leventhal said. "That's how he survived, escaping a concentration camp and so forth because he did not panic in spite of the dangers around."

They're lessons Wallach hopes people take to heart.

"My mind is that the Almighty took care of me and he led me through," Wallach said.

At 100 years old, he's seen some of the best in humanity.

a car parked on a city street: May 24, 2020 parade in North Texas celebrating 100th birthday of Holocaust survivor Heinz Wallach, during the coronvirus pandemic. © Provided by CBS News May 24, 2020 parade in North Texas celebrating 100th birthday of Holocaust survivor Heinz Wallach, during the coronvirus pandemic.

He's also seen some of the worst.

"I was born in Germany, and then came a terrible time," he said. "1933, Hitler came to power."

After his home was destroyed in Kristallnacht, Wallach and his father were sent to a concentration camp. He lost his mother, father and sister to the Holocaust, but he survived.

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