Holocaust survivor, War of Independence veteran Avraham Perlmutter dies at 94

Avraham Perlmutter, whose harrowing story was featured in The Jerusalem Post, passed away last week in Pacific Palisades, California, at the age of 94.

Avraham Perlmutter in uniform during Israel's War of Independence (photo credit: PERLMUTTER FAMILY)
Avraham Perlmutter in uniform during Israel's War of Independence
(photo credit: PERLMUTTER FAMILY)

Award-winning scientist, businessman, author and speaker Avraham Perlmutter, who survived the Holocaust by sheer determination and the goodness of strangers, died last week in Pacific Palisades, California, at the age of 94.

His harrowing story was featured in The Jerusalem Post on February 28, 2022.

Avraham Perlmutter's extraordinary life story

Perlmutter was born on August 28, 1927, in Vienna to Chaim and Malka Perlmutter. After Nazi Germany annexed Austria in 1938, his parents sent him on a Kindertransport to the Netherlands.

“During the ensuing war-torn years,” said his daughter Keren Perlmutter, “he braved harrowing captures, daring escapes, torturous hiding and heartbreaking losses. Yet he also experienced the goodness of humanity through the strangers who helped him.”

"[Perlmutter] braved harrowing captures, daring escapes, torturous hiding, and heartbreaking losses"

Avraham Perlmutter's daughter, Keren

Among the many Dutch people who assisted him during those years was the Beijers family, with whom Perlmutter formed a life-long friendship. The Beijers hid him at great personal peril on their farm in the village of Grubbenvorst, at various times hiding him in an attic, a stable or a casket-sized hole in the ground.

 MIENTJE BEIJERS and Avraham Perlmutter at a reunion (credit: ANDY GAVIN) MIENTJE BEIJERS and Avraham Perlmutter at a reunion (credit: ANDY GAVIN)

“He emerged from the Holocaust with a positive perspective on life,” said his daughter, “choosing to focus on the people who helped him rather than those set on defeating him. Surviving the Holocaust took ingenuity, guts, and sheer determinationall of which he called on again when he joined the Haganah and fought to establish the State of Israel during its War of Independence.”

As a soldier during that war, he participated in the critical Burma Road operation linking Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. In a battle with Egyptian forces, he took part in surrounding a unit headed by future Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser.

In another operation, Perlmutter was seriously injured when a suspicious-looking vehicle he was following caused him to crash his motorcycle.

After being discharged from the army as a wounded soldier, he began to focus on his education. Fluent in seven languages, Perlmutter went on to pursue his studies in the United States, earning a bachelor’s degree in three years from the Georgia Institute of Technology with top honors, a master’s from Princeton University, and a PhD in aeronautical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania.

He founded a successful engineering company and developed many innovative products, including the Dynalens, an image stabilization system that in 1969 won a Scientific and Technical Academy Award. Subsequently, he also founded several other businesses.

Remembered through best-selling autobiography

For many years, Perlmutter shared his extraordinary life story and its important messages to thousands of people at museums, schools and other venues.

His inspirational tale was also conveyed by his #1 best-selling autobiography, Determined: The Story of Holocaust Survivor Avraham Perlmutter, and the award-winning documentary of the same name.

 A YOUNG Avraham Perlmutter (credit: PERLMUTTER FAMILY) A YOUNG Avraham Perlmutter (credit: PERLMUTTER FAMILY)

Perlmutter’s daughter described him as “a very loving, warm, caring and kind person, who loved to help others.” She said he enjoyed reading; playing chess, tennis and ping-pong; jogging; and playing cards with friends.

Devoted to his family, he was a beloved husband, father and grandfather. He was married to Ruth for 62 years and is survived by his children, Michael (Pam), David (Wendy), Sharon (Andy) and Keren, and his grandchildren Emily, Josh, Zachary, Rachel and Alex.