Samuel Pisar, Holocaust survivor who was adviser to JFK, dies


(JTA) — Samuel Pisar, a Holocaust survivor who went to become a lawyer and writer, as well as an adviser to President John F. Kennedy, has died.

Pisar, 86, died Monday in New York, it was announced Tuesday.

A native of Poland, Pisar spent time in several Nazi camps, including Majdanek, Auschwitz, Sachsenhausen and Dachau. He escaped during a death march at the end of World War II.

After the war he earned a doctorate in law from Harvard University. He also was awarded a doctorate from the Sorbonne in France.

Pisar was the founder of Yad Vashem France. He also wrote an award-winning memoir, “Of Blood and Hope,” about how he survived the Holocaust.

Pisar became a member of Kennedy’s economic and foreign policy task force in 1960, and also served as an adviser to the State Department.

Vice President Joe Biden in a statement said that Pisar’s “success as a lawyer and statesman were only surpassed by the courage he showed in speaking of his Holocaust experience. He confronted not only the brutality of his experience but the person he had to become to survive.”

Biden, who noted that Pisar was the stepfather of Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken, added that Pisar’s book should be “required reading. It stands as a strong reminder for every generation of our ongoing obligation to never forget.”

Secretary of State John Kerry in a statement called Pisar “a man of enormous resilience and inspiring courage.”

“We draw strength from the knowledge that the tradition of Samuel Pisar’s dedication to service and commitment to justice and truth is being carried on by his stepson every day of the year,” Kerry said.

Roger Cukierman, president of the French Jewish umbrella organization CRIF, in a statement issued Tuesday called Pisar “a wonderful man who was admired by all,” and a “friend.”

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