An excerpt from the Saturday message at Beth Ariel Congregation, Montreal

For a complete biography on Dr. Fruchtenbaum’s life story:


My Father

After my grandfather’s death, my father began to be groomed to take over the leadership. He began the same kind of training that my grandfather had undertaken, particularly in memorizing the Scriptures.

My father’s training was interrupted in 1939 when the Germans invaded Poland and World War II broke out. He managed to escape to Russia, but the Russians were showing the Jews no more mercy than the Germans. They accused my father of being a Nazi spy and transported him to a Siberian prison camp where he remained for the next two years.

In 1941, the Germans attacked Russia, phase of war began. The Russians needed the support of the Polish government which was in exile in Britain. The Polish Government-in- Exile promised their support on the condition that the Russians release all Polish citizens from their concentration camps. As a Polish citizen, my father was released, however, since at that time Germany dominated much of western Russia, he decided to remain in Siberia until the end of the war. He survived by using the skills he had learned as a young man when he was apprenticed to a photographer. The war and Stalin’s policy of mass transportation of his own population created a need for passports and other official documents requiring photographs. Everyone needed pictures, and my father was, therefore, able to receive a steady income. This was also how he met my mother. She, too, had been forced to flee to Siberia and needed pictures for official papers. A few months later, they were married. When I was born on September 26, 1943, I was given the Russian name Arichek Genekovich Fruchtenbaum.


The Return to Poland

When World War II came to an end, all Polish citizens were given permission to return to their home country, and my parents decided to make the move back. I was three years old, at the time. The long road back led through the Ukraine. There, my mother caught typhus fever and had to be hospitalized. In order for his family to survive, my father had to find work and was forced to put me into an orphanage. There was a severe famine in the area at that time. Very little food was available and none for the orphanage. Children were dying of starvation. But at the end of every day, my father came to the orphanage with two pieces of bread for his son. Although I was reduced to skin and bone, by my father’s resourcefulness, I survived. Eventually, my mother recovered, and we completed our journey back to Poland. We moved back to a small Jewish ghetto surrounded primarily by the Roman Catholic Church. Our stay there lasted less than one year.

My father was able to meet up with those members of his family who had survived the Holocaust. He was one of 13 siblings, seven of whom had died, six in the Holocaust. He found one brother and three sisters. One sister had lost her husband, and the brother had lost his wife and only child. A second brother had managed to escape to Israel during the course of the war. The others had all perished, along with spouses and children: some in the Warsaw Ghetto; some in Auschwitz; some were shot in the Ponari Forest near Vilna; most died in Treblinka.

A few months after our return to Poland, we were due to celebrate our first Passover since the war. It was now the year 1946. This was to be an especially important and significant Passover since we were to celebrate both our redemption from Egypt and also our redemption from Germany. And so we were looking forward to it in a very special way. During the eight days of Passover, we were to eat only unleavened bread, and so our mothers began to bake in preparation for Passover. At the same time, a small three-year-old Roman Catholic child disappeared, and the rumor was spread by the priests that the Jews needed the blood of a Christian to make unleavened bread. This rumor was spread all over Poland, and on the first night of Passover as we sat down to eat, there were mobs forming in the streets outside, organized by the police and led by the church hierarchy. All over Poland, violent mobs attacked Jewish ghettos, including the one I was living in, and on that night of Passover 1946, throughout Poland, many Jews were killed in the name of Jesus Christ. It was under those circumstances that I first heard His name—not as someone who came to die for me, but someone for whom I almost had to die.

As the mobs broke down the doors of Jewish homes (ours was not one of them), there were priests standing by, waving big crosses, and before killing a Jew, they would shout in Polish the commonly heard line: “You killed Christ, and so we will kill you.” It was in those words that I first heard about Jesus.

It was because of this experience that a barrier began to grow in my mind which separated “us” from “them.” I wanted little to do with the Christian or Gentile world. The only Jesus I knew about was the hateful, murderous Jesus presented by the Christian church and not the real Jesus of the New Testament.


Escape from Poland

When the Israeli Underground heard about what had happened in Poland, they began to formulate a plan to rescue as many Jews as possible from behind the Iron Curtain. Bribing the Polish border police, they came to an “arrangement” that for a period of thirty days, any Jew would be allowed free passage across the border.

My parents heard through the Underground that they had thirty days to leave and decided to do so. Carrying our belongings on our backs, we joined a group of other Jews and began the long trek on foot to the border. When we arrived, we were stopped by the Polish border police. We identified ourselves as Jews, and the men put their guns behind their backs and turned and raised their eyes skyward, thus pretending not to see us, so we were free to cross over into Czechoslovakia. I discovered later the cost of our crossing. It was nothing more than a few cartons of American cigarettes. These were rather expensive in Eastern Europe at the time, and a carton of Camels was enough to secure the freedom of a Jewish family. While cigarettes may have endangered the lives of many, the undoubtedly saved mine!

After crossing into Czechoslovakia, things were a little disorganized for a while, but one-by-one the Israeli Underground rounded us up and organized us into a walking party. Under their direction, we walked through the Czechoslovak Forest, heading for the Czech-Austrian border where similar “arrangements” had been made with the border police. It took several weeks for us to cross Czechoslovakia, from the Polish border to the Austrian border, and it was on the day before we arrived at the border that the Czechoslovak government collapsed, and the Communists took over. As soon as they gained power, the Czech border guards, who had been bribed, were removed and replaced by Russian guards with whom no deals had been made. The Israeli Underground told us to sit tight while they went to the border to investigate. What they discovered was that the Russians were under very strict orders to allow no one through except for Greeks returning home from concentration camps. When the Underground returned to our hiding place, they instructed us to burn anything and everything which had our name on it. That night, passports, birth certificates, and all other documents went up in smoke.

The next morning, we headed for the border. None of us were Greek, none of us could speak a single word of Greek, but then, neither could the Russians! With this simple subterfuge, we safely crossed into Austria—all except one member of the Israeli Underground who was shot and killed at the very last moment. Since that time, I have applied the words of Romans 1:16 to myself in a special way: “I was a Jew first, but also a Greek!”

Once in Austria, the American MPs took over from the Israeli Underground, escorted us through Austria to West Germany, and placed us in the first of several British Displaced Persons camps, where we spent the next five years. We were kept from going to Israel because it was at this time that the Jews of Israel were fighting the British for independence. We remained in Germany until 1951, when we were given visas to immigrate to America.

It was three years prior to this, in 1948, that an incident occurred which would prove to be a significant factor in my life, causing me to be confronted with the issue of the Messiahship of Yeshua. Working among the Jews in the camps was a Lutheran minister, Theophil Burgstahler, and his daughter Hanna, who provided clothing and humanitarian aid for new refugees from behind the Iron Curtain.

This is a small excerpt of the larger-than-life events of Ariel Ministries founder, Dr. A. G. Fruchtenbaum. He is a much sought after and respected international bible teacher. His testimony will encourage you!



Click Here for the Video: The Life and Times of Dr. A.G. Fruchtenbaum