Holocaust Survivor Encourages Ohio Students to Stand Up Against Hatred< < Back to
A Holocaust survivor, Sami Steigmann, spoke to OU students at Chabad about undergoing Nazi medical experimentation as a young child and how it has impacted his life.
Steigmann, a 79-year-old from New York City, travels the world to encourage people to learn from their past, work towards a better future, and eliminate any hatred they have in their life. Given his life’s story, Steigmann is a perfect example of what can happen to a person when they follow that advice.
“My life slogan is I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to be,” Steigmann said. ” I want young people to learn from me and never give up under any circumstances.”
Steigmann was born in 1939 and found himself in a Nazi concentration camp with his family when he was only a year old. He doesn’t remember anything from the camp but knows he was subject to medical experimentation. He now suffers from head, neck, and back pain from the experimentation he underwent.Later on in his life, hanging out with what he considers now to be the wrong crowd, caused him to end up living on the streets of New York in 1996, cut off from his wife, son, and grandchildren.
Slowly he turned his life around by making connections with people through volunteering for multiple non-profits. He said this was one of the best moments of his life.
“If I never was homeless I never would have volunteered and I never would be where I am today,” Steigmann said. “Never regret anything that happened to you because we all can learn from our past.”
Now Steigmann says he not only is thankful for his past but has eliminated all hatred he had towards people and anger he had about his life circumstances. He hopes he can inspire others to do the same.
“Hatred is rising its head again. Young people have to be active when they see the slightest injustice and not ignore it,” Steigmann said. “Hatred can not be eliminated through guns, only through education. We must be together, be united, and say this is not appropriate.”
Joshua Chernomorets, a founding member of Chabad at OU says the organization aims to follow Steigmann’s advice because he sees anti-Semitic hate crimes happen on campus a lot.
“We’ve had banners ripped down. We see swastikas spray painted all over campus. So the goal of Chabad is to educate because I don’t think most of it is out of really hate. I think most of it is out of ignorance.” Chernomorets said. ” We’re trying to show people that Judaism is not just about the religion but about the community. It’s a lot about how we can help each other and be the best people we can be.”
Both Steigmann and Chernomorets said although they are Jewish, it is important for them to combat prejudice towards any group of people and to remember that not all who perished during the Holocaust were Jewish.
Steigmann then encouraged the crowd to post pictures on social media with the phrase “We Remember” in order to spread awareness about this horrific time in history and encourage others to actively stand against hatred towards all people.
Steigman will end his tour through Ohio by going to Kent State University. He will be going to Mexico and Brazil next month to tell his life story and discourage people from being bystanders to hatred.