April 19, 2007

Never Forget

"My father blocked the doorway with his body and asked the students to flee," Librescu's son, Joe Librescu, said Tuesday in a telephone interview from his home outside Tel Aviv. "Students started opening windows and jumping out."

A courageous end for this Holocaust survivor who died on Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance day).

This man deserves some more attention.

From the NYT article:

When Romania joined forces with Nazi Germany in World War II, the young Librescu was interned in a labor camp, and then sent along with his family and thousands of other Jews to a central ghetto in the city of Focsani, his son said. Hundreds of thousands of Romanian Jews were killed by the collaborationist regime during the war.

Librescu, who was 76 when he died, later found work at a government aerospace company. But his career was stymied in the 1970s because he refused to swear allegiance to the Communist regime, his son said, and he was later fired when he requested permission to move to Israel.

Librescu obtained his degree in mechanical engineering and aviation construction in 1953 from Polytechnic University in Bucharest. He went on to earn his doctorate from the Bucharest-based Academy of Sciences in 1969, and an honorary degree from the Bucharest Polytechnic University in 2000.

Librescu immigrated to Israel where he taught at Tel Aviv University and worked on aeronautical engineering innovations. He first arrived at Virginia Tech on sabbatical in 1985 and stayed on as a teacher and researcher, which included work with NASA, hundreds of published papers and numerous awards for a scientist who:

specialized in composite structures and aeroelasticity

Librescu's work led to the strengthening of the materials used in aircraft skins and frames, which may have led to the increased survival rate during crashes, as well as definitely contributing to the overall structural integrity of aircraft.

There are many people that Dr. Librescu's work may have rescued. This man spent his life trying to make the world a better place.

Dr. Librescu will be remembered as much for his patience with his students, for his commitment to teaching and for his unselfishness, as for the meticulous suit and tie he wore to all occasions.

This man held the door closed and yelled for his students to kick out the second story windows as death came for him in the form of a madman's bullets, death that was unable to claim him in that Nazi labor camp, that had missed him during the Communist takeover, that had missed him while he worked in Israel, finally found its mark on Holocaust Remembrance Day when he made the conscious choice to give his own life for his students. Funny how he had to come to the land of the free to be mercilessly killed.

An average Monday in professor Liviu Librescu’s solid mechanics class that in a blink turned from reviewing homework to the unmistakable pop of gunshots outside her Norris Hall classroom. In the flurry of students dialing 911 on cell phones, taking cover on the floor and twisting open second story windows to escape, Merrey, 22, glanced over her shoulder before jumping.

"I just remember looking back and seeing him at the door," the Virginia Tech senior recalled of her professor. "I don’t think I would be here if it wasn’t for him"

[snip]

"It wouldn’t amaze me he would do such a thing," fellow engineering professor Muhammad Hajj said. "He’s that kind of person, willing to take care of others, protect others."

http://www.roanoke.com/...

And that's exactly what he did. Dr. Liviu Librescu, a Holocaust survivor, did not survive the deadly rampage at Virginia Tech but all his students did.

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Shared with permission from dailykos.

1 comment:

Laura said...

Thank you so much for sharing this inspiring story. It's people like Dr. Liviu Librescu who provide an example of the good in humanity, an example we all need.