“My humble explanation for all the tragedies and the bad people who want just to kill is that maybe there have to be some bad things in order to appreciate all the good things that this world gives you,” says Harvey, who went on to be a cosmetologist to the stars, working in New York before coming to Los Angeles in 1950.
He owned two salons, including the Continental House of Beauty in Beverly Hills, doing hair for Judy Garland, Mary Martin, Zsa Zsa Gabor and a young Liza Minnelli.
One of six children, Harvey grew up in a winegrowing region in Czechoslovakia.
Two years later, Harvey heard Hitler on the radio: “He said, ‘I’m going to kill every Jew in this world.’ ” Those words seemed very real on a day seven years later, when the Germans knocked on their door and gave the family five minutes to gather a few possessions and leave. We didn’t know where the smoke was coming from — that they were burning human beings.” On that awful day, Harvey lost his mother, his aunt and many cousins. Clary, 89, can discuss the Holocaust without exposing obvious emotion, but that serenity dissolves as he recounts his 1942 arrival at Auschwitz. The cattle car doors swung open, and SS guards were screaming at inmates to get out and sit on the ground.
The next stop was a ghetto, and six weeks later, they were crammed into a cattle car bound for Poland. “My mother said the most remarkable thing,” recalls Clary.
“I cannot tell you what a terrible journey it was,” recalls Harvey, weeping as he remembers his arrival at Auschwitz. “She said, ‘Behave.’ She probably knew me as a brat. Do what they tell you to do.’ ” Clary needs a moment to regain his composure after recounting this final conversation with his mother, who was killed that day with his father in the gas chamber.
Of 14 family members who were deported to the camp, he was the only one who survived to see liberation.
Only 11 people who lived through it remain from the world of entertainment.
Now, in gripping video testimonials, Oscar winners, actors, Dr.
Ruth and even Judy Garland's hairstylist tell their personal stories, filled with hope and horror, one last time as their themes of genocide, displacement and discrimination continue to resonate today.
Harvey was as close to death as a human being can be.
He already had survived a stint at Auschwitz, months of forced labor, barefoot death marches, and then, early in 1945, he and other prisoners were crammed into a frigid cattle car for transport from Poland to the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany.