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Holocaust Survivor Who Died Defending Virginia Tech Students Buried in Israel

  • Robert Berger

A professor killed in the university massacre in the United States has been laid to rest in Israel. As Robert Berger reports from VOA's Jerusalem bureau, his courage on that day is a source of pride for his students, his family and his countrymen.

The "Kaddish," or mourner's prayer, was recited at a hero's burial for Liviu Librescu, an Israeli professor at Virginia Tech University. His body was wrapped in a prayer shawl according to Jewish tradition.

Librescu survived the Holocaust only to be gunned down in his classroom. He blocked the door as the gunman approached, giving students time to jump out the window and escape.

Librescu's wife, Marlena, said she learned of his courageous act from students who sent e-mails.

She said they wrote to express gratitude to the professor for saving their lives.

Librescu's son Joe spoke through tears saying he is proud to have such a father.

"I am walking today with my head held high," he said.

The 76-year-old professor was an aeronautics engineer and lecturer at Virginia Tech for 20 years. As a child in Nazi-allied Romania during World War II, he was deported with his family to a labor camp. Up to 380,000 Romanian Jews were killed during the war, but Librescu survived and later immigrated to Israel.

Romanian officials laid a wreath at the grave, and awarded Librescu Romania's highest medal for his scientific accomplishments and heroism.

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