Warsaw ghetto survivor mourned by four generations


Sam Zarembski, who participated in the Warsaw ghetto uprising of Jews against Nazi occupying forces during World War II and went on to survive the Holocaust, died on July 26. He was 91.

“It’s an example of what Jewish history is: from the darkness to the light, and that’s certainly what his life was,” said granddaughter Laura Zarembski.

Born Severin Zarembski on November 20, 1917 in Warsaw, Poland, he was called to serve in the Polish army in 1939 after the Nazis invaded. Polish forces were soon defeated by German troops, and Mr. Zarembski and his family were forced to try to survive in a part of Warsaw set aside for Jews. When the Nazi’s decided to liquidate the ghetto in 1943, many of the 55,000 Jews trapped there resisted. Mr. Zarembski was one of the few Jews who were actually armed during the battle that lasted for 27 days.

Over the next few years, he survived five concentration camps, including Auschwitz.

He was liberated from Theresienstadt by the Russian army in 1945, and went on a two-year search for his family. While in a displacement camp, he met and married his wife Rose. They escaped the country together, using disguises to cross the Polish border, through East and West Germany to find safety with American troops.

“Going through such tough times and being able to come out of it with a smile is a great inspiration to me and my kids,” said granddaughter Juliet Shavit.

Frieda Lewis, Mr. Zarembski’s daughter, remembers her father’s passion when he spoke about his experiences. “He was telling the tale so you would remember,” she said.

The darkness in his past didn’t consume his life in Riverdale, his family said.

“He was the essence of the gentle soul,” said Ms. Zarembski. “His legacy to me is that no matter how crazy it gets in life, to seek that peace and quiet, that serenity, and the laughter.”

Family members say he embraced his life and his family, always checking up on his grandchildren, and teaching them all chess.

He is survived by his wife Rose, children Allan and Frieda, five grandchildren and five greatgrandchildren who will always remember him for chess lessons and his insatiable sweet tooth. Condolences should be sent to Rose Zarembski at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, JR121.