RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — Andor Stern, who is recognized by the Brazilian Holocaust Memorial as the only Brazilian-born Holocaust survivor, died in Sao Paulo on Thursday at 94.
Stern was born in Sao Paulo to Hungarian Jewish parents in 1928 but his family moved back to Hungary before the war. Stern was eventually imprisoned in six concentration camps, including Auschwitz, where he spent 13 months starting in 1944. His mother and grandparents were killed in the camp’s gas chambers.
“I saw my mother coming out of the chimney. I remember everything,” Stern said in an interview with Folha de S.Paulo newspaper. “I was out of the world until May 1, 1945, when we were released by the American soldiers. I was 17 and weighed 60 pounds.”
Stern returned to Brazil in 1948, got married and had five daughters.
In 2019, Stern celebrated his bar mitzvah 78 years late, at the age of 91. Full of symbolism, the ceremony was held at Sao Paulo’s oldest synagogue, Kehilat Israel, on the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht, the 1938 Nazi pogrom in Germany and Austria that most mark as the beginning of the Holocaust.
He is survived by nine grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.
“Even after everything he went through, he continued his life inspiring everyone with his positive words and a lot of faith and optimism. He fought and did his best to perpetuate the memory of the Holocaust for future generations,” Rabbi Toive Weitman, the head of the Sao Paulo Holocaust memorial, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.