The Deblin ghetto was converted to a
concentration camp where Harris miraculously survived. Too young to work, he
hid from the guards in the darkness of the barracks.
In 1944, as the
war approached, the Nazis moved the Jewish workers to the Czestochowa
concentration camp. Upon arrival in the main camp, Sammy was lifted up,
kissed and hugged, and passed overhead from hand to hand by each
prisoner. The prisoners, many of whom had lost their own children, were overjoyed
at seeing a child.
Harris was liberated by the Russian
army on Jan. 16, 1945. He eventually made his way to the U.S. and lived
in a foster home in Chicago. He was adopted by Dr. Ellis and Harriett Harris
in Northbrook, Ill., in 1948.
Today, Harris serves as president of
the Holocaust Memorial Foundation of Illinois and is leading the efforts to
build a new Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center. He continues
to speak extensively on the local and state level about the lessons of the
Holocaust and his experiences, which he described in his memoir Sammy:
A Child Survivor of the Holocaust.
This presentation is part of the D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in
Leadership Spring Lecture Series and is free and open to the public. It is
being held in conjunction with Viterbo’s annual Teaching the Holocaust Workshop