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The SEC hosted concentration camp survivor Rubin Sztajer on April 11 in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day. Mr. Sztajer shared his personal stories of the horrors he experienced as a young man in Europe during Nazi occupation. The event, hosted by the SEC’s Jewish American Heritage Book Club and Commissioner Hester Peirce, was also webcast to the agency’s regional offices.

Mr. Sztajer inspired us with his courage and optimism even after enduring unthinkable suffering.

Commissioner Hester M. Peirce

At age 16, Mr. Sztajer was taken from his family and spent years in Nazi concentration camps, enduing slave labor, torturous conditions, and death marches. He was liberated from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany in 1945, but his parents and younger siblings—like millions of other innocent victims—were killed during the genocide.

His painful descriptions of the heinous events that unfolded before him were a stark reminder that the victims of the Holocaust are more than statistics or names in a history book; they were mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters with jobs, homes, hobbies, and friends. They were stripped of their dignity and identity and were left terrorized before being robbed of their lives.

Mr. Sztajer has lived in the United States for nearly 70 years where he continues to share his account of the Holocaust. According to his bio, “Rubin put his personal feelings aside to keep the memories of his family alive by telling their stories.” Commissioner Peirce noted that “Mr. Sztajer inspired us with his courage and optimism even after enduring unthinkable suffering.”

The SEC was privileged to host Mr. Sztajer, whose story is difficult to hear, but important to remember. The event also included a video and remarks by SEC staff members, including one who told the story of how both of his parents survived the Holocaust.