Ben Lesser, Living a Life that Matter is classic in structure: Before, During and After. His life before the Holocaust was a life of privilege in two of the most important Jewish cities of Eastern Europe Krakow and Munkacs, in Poland and Hungary. His life during the Holocaust includes ghettoization and escape into Hungary where in 1944 he is transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau and from there on the death marches to Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen. His life after the Holocaust includes a sojourn in Germany and then training for aliyah to Israel and finally life in the United States. As many survivors, his first years in the golden medina were marked by hard work and beginning a family. It is a important rags to riches story, but his last years have been his most significant for Ben, as many survivors, has become a teacher, bearing witness to the past and teaching students of all ages from elementary school to college the important values of tolerance, democracy, respect for human dignity and decency. He has truly lived a life that matters and has shown us all that while suffering may not confer meaning, how one deals withs suffering can make all the difference in the world, conferring meaning on the life of the witness and in the lives of those of us who have become witnesses to the witness. One is privileged to know such a man and honored to read his work.
Here is a most unusual book by a most unusual person that leads us to change our thinking about the Holocaust with its millions killed not as a matter of statistics but as the fates of individual human beings who might, like the author, have lived meaningful, and productive lives; and who deserve to be remembered lest there be a repetition.
Mr. Lesser is an incredible role model for people of any culture. His resilience and courage to acknowledge the past and share his vision for a brighter future after his time in concentration camps is empowering. His dedication to ensuring the world never forgets these dark periods in our collective history is a testament to his strength and character.
Watch Ben Lesser with Ann Curry unfold a search for a friend that gave him hope at a time where he lost his family, friends and all things that gave him meaning.
Tune into your local PBS station and don’t miss this special segment.