WESTFIELD, NJ – Holocaust survivor Michael Bornstein spent the majority of his life in silence surrounding his horrifying experiences as a young boy. According to his daughter, Debbie Bornstein Holinstat, those memories were simply too painful to share.
“I’ve always know that my father was a Holocaust survivor,” Bornstein Holinstat said. “But he just didn’t want to talk about his experience. My dad was focused on his life and his family; he just wanted to look towards the future.”
With 12 grandchildren now wanting to hear his story, Bornstein finally decided it was time to share. The entire story comes to life in the New York Times Bestseller “Survivor’s Club,” co-written by the father-daughter duo.
"I will never understand what fuels anti-Semitism, but I do know it's my job as a Holocaust survivor to keep on talking about my experiences and hope that the world never forgets,” Bornstein said. “I try to talk to young people as much as possible, because it will be the job of the next generation to remember my story and the stories of the six million who died.”
“It’s been an incredible journey to learn about my father’s experience,” Bornstein Holinstat said. “He was so happy to learn some incredible details about his father during this process, as well. Before his murder in Auschwitz, his father was a hero who managed to set up a bribery scheme to make conditions more bearable for those in the ghetto.”
Both father and daughter believe that the Holocaust should stand as a cautionary tale of what happens when power goes unchecked.
“It seems like there is so much anger and intolerance out there,” Bornstein said. “I think back to what happened to me and my family in the 1940s, and I know we just can’t ever, as a society, go back there again. We can’t let hatred win.”
Michael Bornstein and Debbie Bornstein Holinstat will speak at Westfield’s Temple Emanu-El on March 27 at 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the community. More information can be found at http://www.tewnj.org/events/survivors-club.html.