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St. Louisan Mendel Rosenberg Reflects On Holocaust, Lessons For Today In New Memoir 'Thriver'

Local journalist Dick Weiss (at left) partnered with Mendel Rosenberg on his newly published memoir titled "Thriver: My Journey Through Holocaust Nightmare to American Dream."
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

For a long time, Mendel Rosenberg didn’t talk about what he experienced during World War II.

“[During] the many years that I didn’t talk about it, I used to have nightmares – the same nightmare constantly,” he said this week on St. Louis on the Air. “The Germans are shooting at me, and I’m running away.”

Rosenberg was about 13 years old when his father and brother were killed in Lithuania. Rosenberg himself was put into a ghetto – and later taken to a concentration camp. Decades later, he now is talking about what happened to him and his family. The nonagenarian’s new memoir, “Thriver: My Journey Through Holocaust Nightmare to American Dream,” gives his firsthand account of the Holocaust.

The book is co-authored by local writer Dick Weiss, who also participated in the on-air discussion.

“I think the lesson I learned [from Rosenberg’s story] is: One, things can turn on a dime,” Weiss said. “And I think people here just take for granted that we will always have the freedoms and the wonderful life that we enjoy, and that’s what Mendel had in Lithuania, and it went away almost overnight.

“And so we can’t take that for granted. And I think the other thing is the messaging that we hear today is so much like what was being said about groups of people over there [in Europe] before all of this happened. Words matter, and we create for ourselves, with the stories that we tell, a culture that is positive and constructive and unified or … just the opposite. We have to be careful about that.”

Related Event
What: Mendel Rosenberg Book Signing
When: 11 a.m. Sunday, March 31, 2019
Where: Atrium of the Kaplan Feldman Complex (12 Millstone Campus Drive, St. Louis, MO 63146)

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air producers Alex HeuerEvie HemphillLara Hamdan and Jon Lewis give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Evie is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.