From Harford County Public Schools:
On Wednesday, April 11, 2012, Holocaust survivor, Rubin Sztajer visited Edgewood High School to speak with students about his personal experience and life during the Holocaust. He told her story starting from the beginning of the war and life in the Klobuck Ghetto, participating in a death march, and living in the concentration camp, Bergen Belsen. His story was extremely powerful and students in attendance received a very important message.
“It made me squirm in my seat, but that uncomfortableness made me appreciate the coziness of my life even more.” said student, Maya Knight.
During his presentation, Mr. Sztajer talked about many losses in his life; his family, an education, his childhood. He reminded students that they should take any and all opportunities awarded to them. He stated that, “If you are unsuccessful, then you do not have anyone to blame but yourself.” This message was extremely important for high school students to hear as they start preparing for their futures.
“It is extremely challenging to fully understand the atrocities faced by millions of people during the Holocaust. Mr. Sztajer allowed students to visualize the events they learn about in the classroom in a very memorable way. After meeting and speaking with Mr. Sztajer it became even more difficult to listen to the details of what he experienced. Mr. Sztajer is an incredibly kind man, with a very powerful message that everyone should hear,” said Edgewood High social studies teacher, Elizabeth Bernard.
Mr. Sztajer was born in Klobuck, Germany in 1926 and was 13 years old when World War II began. On April 12, 1942 at age 16, Rubin was taken from his family and sent to the Markstadt labor camp never to see his parents, younger brother and his two youngest sisters again. In June 1943, Rubin was transferred to Funfteichen Concentration Camp. For about two months, starting in October of 1944 Rubin participated in death marches in which prisoners, wearing wooden shoes, were marched from camp to camp in the snow. As Allied troops closed in on Germany, Rubin was shipped by cattle car to the Bergen Belsen Concentration Camp. Of the 100 people who were transported, only 10 survived. At the time of liberation in 1945, Rubin was found unconscious by his sister who coincidentally, was also an inmate at the camp. It took Rubin 3 years of treatment to recover his health.
Rubin was sponsored by the Jewish Agency of Baltimore and arrived in the U.S. in May of 1949. After finding a job cleaning, he worked his way up to salesman and remained with the company for 43 years. He retired at the age of 70 and is currently a student at Towson University and enjoys playing golf, exercising and spending time with his family. He has been married for 59 years and has three children and seven grandchildren.
“A presentation of this kind should be necessary for all high school students in the country,” said student, Danilo Darley. “It gives much more impact than a book ever could.”