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St. Louis Jewish Light

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St. Louis Jewish Light

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Man who survived cruel Nazi medical experiments as baby, brings story to Maryville University

Sami+Steigmann
Sami Steigmann

Born just two months after the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, Sami Steigmann’s family lived in Romania. By 1941, the 2-year-old Steigmann was living in a labor camp in Ukraine, where he was subjected to cruel Nazi medical experiments. At one point, Steigmann was on the brink of death, until a local German woman risked her life to save him by giving him food to survive. Through the generosity and kindness of a stranger, Steigmann survived.

His life journey took him from Europe to the newly formed state of Israel, where he served in the Israeli Air Forces. He later moved to New York City, where he began work as a motivational speaker and promoter of Holocaust education.

In 2016, he was awarded the Harmony Power Award at the Museum of Tolerance and a proclamation from the New York State Assembly, which recognized him for his courage and his compassion as a motivational speaker. He has been featured by the United Nations, the U.S. Congress, the Israeli Knesset and several major news organizations. Today, Steigmann travels the country speaking to communities as one of the last Holocaust survivors able to embark on such tours.

Steigmann in St. Louis

Now, Steigmann is bringing his story to St. Louis. On Oct. 23, at 7 p.m., he will be the featured speaker for a live in-person event at Maryville University. The event will also be live-streamed.

“In addition to the main event we’re hosting open to the public, Sami will also visit several local schools and organizations to spread his message further,” said Joey Abeles, manager of the Maryville University Hillel. “These organizations include Ladue Horton Watkins High School, Ladue Middle School, Clayton High School, Parkway North High School, Maplewood Richmond Heights High School, and the LDS Church.”

Registration for the live event or to get a live stream link is required. 

What to expect

Since 2008, Steigmann has told his story to more than 250,000 people. In his talks, he reflects on his life experiences and what we can learn from them in 2023. He emphasizes his motto to attendees, saying that his purpose is to “educate, motivate, empower and tolerate.”

In a recent talk at Yale University last month, Steigmann told the audience that it is important to learn “what hate can do to a person,” a comment he made in the context of atrocities committed during World War II. He also said that the only way to combat hate is through education, a sentiment he echoed as part of his wider idea that people should be “upstanders.”

Steigmann also spoke to the divisive political climate in the United States and the hate that flows from it, and said that despite the pain and torture forced on him by the Nazis as a child, he said hate is “not in my nature.”

Sami Steigmann at Maryville University

Where: Maryville University Auditorium, 650 Maryville University Drive, 63141
When: October 23 at 7 p.m.
How Much: Free, but registration is required.
More Info: Visit Sami’s website for more information

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About the Contributor
Jordan Palmer
Jordan Palmer, Chief Digital Content Officer
Jordan worked at KSDK from 1995 to 2020. Jordan is a three-time Emmy award winner who produced every kind of show from news to specials during his tenure, creating Show Me St. Louis, The Cardinal Nation Show. He started ksdk.com in 2001 and won three Edward R. Murrow Awards for journalistic and website excellence in 2010, 2014 and 2020. Jordan has been married for 25 years and is the father of two college students. He is an avid biker, snowboarder, and beer lover. He created the blog drink314.com, focusing on the St. Louis beer community in 2015. Jordan has an incredible and vast knowledge of useless information and is the grandson of a Cleveland bootlegger.