You could hear a pin drop when San Diego holocaust survivor Ben Midler spoke at USD about his teenage years spent in six concentration camps.
Ben was born in Bialystok, Poland in 1928; some of his family had been lucky enough to flee Poland before the war began, but of those who remained in Poland, Ben was the only family member who survived.
He recalled that the year he was supposed to have his Bar Mitzvah, Germans burned down the Bialystok synagogue with about 2,000 Jews inside.
After living in a ghetto for two years, Midler was taken to six concentration camps between the ages of 15 to 17. Midler said he survived because he worked in the ghetto and camps. He still has the numbers tatooed on his arm.
Students all listened very closely to Ben’s riveting story, mesmerized by the details. Ben speaks to students because he wants to make sure history does not repeat itself and one way to do so is to tell the stories of Holocaust survivors.
He is the author of “The Life of A Child Survivor from Bialystok, Poland,” available on Amazon, a biography of a 13 year old boy which tells from a child survivor’s perspective how Midler escaped concentration camps, executions squads and the gas chambers. He wrote the book in his 80s to provide a living history.
Ben Midler and his wife Esther have lived in San Diego since 1984. They have 3 daughters, 6 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.