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Osher Lifelong Learning Institute hosts Holocaust survivor

Close-up of words inscribed on a Holocaust memorial. The words "I will" and "until I die" are visible.
March 15, 2013

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Arizona State University is hosting a lecture 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 1:30 p.m., March 26, at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus, Mercado, Building C, room C-300, 502 E. Monroe St., Phoenix.

This event is free to the ASU community and students with the presentation of a Sun Card. Registration is required for all others at, or by contacting 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.

Twelve of Scheer’s family members were eventually killed at the hands of the German SS, including his parents and brother. 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 6 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.