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Holocaust survivor Rubin Sztajer to share his experience at York College on Nov. 2

October 27, 2017
Rubin Sztajer

Holocaust survivor Rubin Sztajer will share his experience at York College at 7 p.m., Nov. 2, in the Waldner Performing Arts Center. His talk, “How I Survived the Holocaust,” sponsored by The Doris and Bernard Gordon Center for Jewish Student Life, is open to the public free of charge. Tickets are required. Reserve your seat at ycptickets.universitytickets.com. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. 

Sztajer was born in 1926 in Klobuck, Poland. His family consisted of his father, who caught and sold fish for a living, his mother, three sisters and two brothers. Sztajer was 13 years old when Poland was invaded by the Nazis in 1939. At age 14, he and his family were sent to the ghetto.

In 1942, Sztajer was taken from his ghetto home. He never again saw his parents, younger brother and two youngest sisters. From 1942 until June 1943, he lived and worked in Markstadt, one of the many sub-camps of the Gross Rosen Concentration Camp in Lower Silesia, Poland. In June of 1943, Sztajer was transferred to Funteichen Camp near Mecklenburg, Germany, which was guarded by Schutzstaffel (SS) officers. In 1944, he was a frequent participant in the many death marches, in which prisoners were marched from camp to camp to escape capture by the Soviet Army. 

When news of the Allied advance on Germany became apparent to the Nazi regime, Sztajer was shipped by cattle car to Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp in Northwestern Germany, near the town of Celle. One hundred people boarded the cattle cars for the journey; only 10 remained at the end of the transport. While imprisoned in Bergen-Belsen, Rubin’s job was to bury the dead in mass graves that consisted of thousands of bodies of both men and women. 

On April 15, 1945, Sztajer was liberated by both British and Canadian forces. He was found unconscious and near death that day by his older sister Gussie, who was an inmate at the same camp. He remained in Bergen-Belsen for six months recuperating, while Gussie learned of the survival of their brother Sam. The two traveled to Frankfurt, where Sztajer continued to recover from his experience. It would take him three years.

Sztajer came to America in May 1949, sponsored by the Jewish Agency in Baltimore. He found a job cleaning in the area, and remained with the company, working his way up the ladder to a sales position. He retired after 43 years of service at age 70. Sztajer and his wife, Regina, have three children and several grandchildren. He speaks annually to thousands and inspires them to appreciate their blessings in life.

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