Facing History in the Survival Story of Sami Steigmann

While Spring Break is generally a time for travel, fun in the sun, and blooming flowers, the day before this year’s Spring Break held a special gift for York eighth and ninth graders. On Friday, March 18, over the course of two periods, those students had the distinct and unique opportunity of having Sami Steigmann, a Holocaust Survivor, share with them his profound and amazing story.

Despite his suffering, the 76-year-old Holocaust survivor says he has stopped thinking of himself as one of the “victims” who were imprisoned and abused at a Nazi labor camp in Mogilev Podolski, Ukraine. Instead, Sami “would like to be remembered (as going) from being a victim, to a survivor, to, today, being a moral witness, teaching (students) to become better people.”

He was born in Czernowitz when it was in Romania but from 1941 to 1944, his family was imprisoned in a Nazi camp in Mogilev Podolski, in what is now Ukraine. His parents told him he was near death when a kind German woman who brought food to the guards smuggled milk to him. The family got out when the Red Army liberated the camp.

Sami Steigmann’s story aligns with the Eighth Grade Facing History and Ourselves unit on the Holocaust as well as the novels of Night and Maus that are being read in English classes.