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Holocaust survivor headlines Osher at ASU spring lineup

February 01, 2013

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Arizona State University is hosting a pair of lectures presented by Holocaust survivor Bernard Scheer, who will recount the true stories of great suffering, remarkable determination and many acts of heroism during the Nazi genocide of Jews.

Scheer will present “Personal Reflections on Surviving the Holocaust and Life After” at two Osher lectures in Februrary and March:

• 10:30 a.m. to noon, Feb. 19, Maravilla Scottsdale – The Lodge, 7325 E. Princess Blvd., Scottsdale, 480-538-5600

• 1:30 to 3 p.m., March 26, ASU Downtown Phoenix campus, Mercado, Building C, room C-300, 502 E. Monroe St., Phoenix, 602-496-1911

Registration is required at, or contact Shirley Talley at 602-496-1191.

“Mr. Scheer radiates a sparkle of life, vitality and purpose that has emerged from the enormity of human tragedy that can serve to inspire us all,” said Richard Knorpf, director of the OLLI at ASU. "I believe we all can find personal deep meaning in our own lives as we listen to what Mr. Scheer has done with his.”

Scheer was living an idyllic family life in Podhace, Poland, when Adolph Hitler’s Nazi soldiers invaded his native country in April of 1941. SS Troops held executions in the streets, burned down synagogues, destroyed cemeteries and rationed food and water for all local residents, recalls Scheer.

Scheer escaped and hid in a nearby forest, where he spent the next several years of his life until liberated by the American Army in May of 1945. He immigrated to New York City two years later and subsequently met Lillian, his wife of 50 years. They had two children.

“I try hard not to think about those days which were my life so many years ago,” Scheer says. “My survival is tempered with feelings of guilt, which is difficult to overcome. It is hard to accept one has survived, when one’s family and friends are dead. There is so much to remember and so much to tell.”

Approximately six million European Jews were killed during World War II under the state-sponsored extermination by Nazi Germany. Some scholars maintain that the definition of the Holocaust should also include the Nazi murders of ethnic Poles, Romanians, Soviet civilians, Soviet prisoners of war, people with disabilities, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other political and religious opponents. With this expanded definition, the total number of Holocaust victims is estimated between 11 and 17 million people.