Posted 11 months ago
By John Axtell
Holocaust survivor and Panhandle civic leader Benny Hochman of Sidney has died. Hochman passed away Wednesday morning at Sidney Regional Medical Center. Services will be Saturday morning at the First United Methodist Church in Sidney.
Hochman, born in Poland, was 16 when he was taken from his home by the Nazi Army in 1939. He survived nearly 6 years in Nazi slave labor and death camps before being liberated from Buchenwald by American soldiers on April 11, 1945, after losing his parents, brother, and 2 sisters.
After regaining his strength and befriending the GIs who had saved his life, Hockman came to the United States in 1946 and later worked for Northwestern Bell Telephone…now CenturyLink…for 40 years and spent 20 years on the Nebraska Blue Cross-Blue Shield board.
Hockman also became a spokesman for freedom and liberty, giving hundreds…if not thousands…of speeches over the years on his Holocaust experiences and urging his listeners to safeguard their freedoms. He told his life’s story in the book “From Hell to Here,” published in 2001.
Hockman received many honors…highlighted by an honorary Doctor of Human Letters degree from Chadron State College for his outstanding community service and citizenship in December 2002, when he was also the speaker for the school’s winter commencement.
He was a past Sidney Citizen of the Year, an Admiral in the Nebraska Navy, recipient of the 2004 Governor’s Trailblazers tourism award, and member of the Jaycee…Junior Chamber of Commerce…Hall of Fame, and served on the Sidney School Board and City Council.
Memorials in the name of Benny Hochman have been established to the First United Methodist Church in Sidney and the Denver Children’s Hospital.