By Steven Shapiro
Michael Bornstein was a small child when Nazi soldiers sent him and his family to one of the most evil places the world has ever known.
“From what we’ve been told, children my age, about 4, survived about two weeks at Auschwitz. I was able to survive a much longer time,” Bornstein, who is now 76, told Yahoo News and Finance Anchor Bianna Golodryga about his time in the notorious death camp.
In his new book, “Survivors Club,” Bornstein recounts the details of his painful past, which, for decades, he has largely kept to himself.
“My siblings and I tried to ask questions,” says Bornstein’s daughter, Debbie Bornstein Holinstat, a veteran journalist and co-author of the book.
“We certainly knew the tattoo was there. We knew he was a survivor. We knew he was at Auschwitz. But for the longest time, he wouldn’t talk.”
Her father decided to tell his story in part because there are fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors remaining to document the horrors Jews and others faced during World War II. But according to Debbie, another disturbing incident inspired her father to speak out.
“There was a Holocaust deniers group that posted his photo and captioned it that Jews obviously lied when they said Jews were killed upon arrival.”
The photo of several young children was actually taken by Soviet troops after they liberated the camp.
“I think it was done to show the children who survived, and I was fortunate to be one of them,” he says.
Michael’s father and older brother were not as fortunate. Both were murdered by the Nazis. His mother was sent away to a munitions camp in Austria, leaving only his grandmother to look out for him.
“She saved my life,” Bornstein says.
Bornstein and his mother were reunited after the war, as were many of their relatives, who had hid in attics and basements to avoid being sent to the concentration camps.
“That’s where ‘Survivors Club’ comes from, “ Bornstein explained.
Today, he and his daughter Debbie are concerned once again over the recent wave of anti-Semitic acts and threats across the country.
“I’m completely and totally horrified,” Debbie says. “The reaction should not be: “Stop it.” The reaction should be: “We don’t tolerate this.” It should be so fierce, so strong.”
“I would tell President Trump to face the reality of what’s going on with people who are extremely prejudiced.”
Today, her father takes great joy in his four children and 11 grandchildren. His tattoo remains a constant reminder of what he endured, and a reason to look forward.
“We had considered taking it off, but I’m glad I didn’t. Because it’s a reminder of the past and hopefully minimize the future.”