(JTA) – Alan Gross, the American Jewish government contractor who spent five years in a Cuban prison, said thinking of his family members who survived the Holocaust was one of three things that helped him get through the ordeal.
Gross told CBS news program “60 Minutes” in footage released Friday that he “had to do three things in order to survive” each day in Cuban jail.
“I thought about my family that survived the Holocaust. I exercised religiously every day, and I found something every day to laugh at,” he told journalist Scott Pelley, in his first interview since being released last December.
In a preview of the episode, which airs in full Sunday night, Gross, 66, of Rockville, Maryland, also revealed that for the first two weeks of his detainment, he was confident he would get out quickly.
Gross, a contractor for the United States Agency for International Development, had been helping connect Cuba’s small Jewish community to the Internet when he was arrested and charged with crimes against the state.
Gross had traveled to Cuba numerous times as part of a project to connect the Communist-governed island’s small Jewish community to the Internet. On his fifth trip, he was taken into custody and accused of crimes against the state.
Gross was released on Dec. 17, the first day of Chanukah, as part of a larger diplomatic agreement between the United States and Cuba.