Sami's Survival Story

After the medical experiments, life was very difficult in the camp. The starvation and the bitter cold Russian winter created survival problems. Struggling to take care of his family, Sami's father gave away his winter coat for a loaf of bread. At one point he was dying of starvation and his life was saved by a German woman. This Germans woman lived on a farm near the camp and brought food to the SS and Ukrainian guards. Fortunately, she saw Sami and recognized he was dying of starvation - physical signs are big head, swollen stomach, swollen feet. She decided to give him milk, risking her entire family's lives. Eventually, when color began to return to his cheeks, she would pinch him (in Yiddish, we called it a knip), and say: "Those are my rosy cheeks!". This German woman enabled Sami to survive and eventually, the whole family returned  to Romania. Not knowing her name, years later, it was a very happy sight to see at the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Va'Shem a stone/marker and a tree honoring the unknown ones.

AFTER THE WAR 

 

Sami had a reoccurring nightmare that lasted for many years. In the nightmare, he was in the corner of a building. He was naked. The only lights and sounds he saw and heard were from the explosions. It made him feel like he was in a void and alone. Born during the war, Sami knew no one who had experienced exactly what he had during the war years.  He knew survivors, and children of survivors but no one who shared his story. For almost 63 years, he felt he did not belong to either generation.  However, in 2003, for two days - November 1st and 2nd -  the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. closed its doors to the public. The Holocaust survivors, their children and their liberators - over  8,000 people - were invited to attend.                                                                                                                                        

Sami was there.

"I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to be"  - Sami

SAMI STEIGMANN | 2016-2021 COPYRIGHT

NYC, New York

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