He was four years old when the war broke out in 1939. Upon Nazi occupation a portion of Deblin was turned into a ghetto where Sammy and his family lived. Soon overcrowding, lack of food and medication caused men, women and children to die on the streets of Deblin from typhus, dysentery and starvation.
In 1942, Sammy and his family were rounded up for deportation. During the chaos of the round up Sammy’s father pushed him out line and told him to run and hide. Sammy watched his parents and four sisters and brothers march towards the railcars. That was the last time Sammy saw his family. Sammy was able to escape death and his survival was nothing short of a miracle.
As the round ups decreased the Deblin ghetto was converted into a concentration camp where Sammy survived. Since he was too young to work he hid from the guards, hiding in the darkness of the barracks. On January 6, 1945, he was liberated by the Russian army.
Sam is the founder of the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center in Skokie. Today, when Harris walks around the museum, everyone greets him by name. Each “Hi, Sam” receives a large grin in return, and Harris says one of his greatest pleasures is watching as the many Midwest survivors’ stories are passed on. Standing inside the centerpiece of the museum, a German cattle car of the kind that was used to transport Jews, he is asked how he still has faith in his fellow man after all that he has seen. He responds with the tenacity of a survivor: “Good will prevail in the long run.”
|>> PDF of the story mural tile display, designed by Bev Silver & Talia Levitt|
|>> Return to the Holocaust Memorial Stories|