Severin Fayerman, the inspirational holocaust survivor, has died at the age of 92. The entrepreneur passed away at his home in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, according to family members.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He’s Been Described as the ‘Personification of the American Dream’
Fayerman’s exact cause of death has not been made public, reports WFMZ. The station described Fayerman as “a true personification of the American dream.” Fayerman himself endorsed this tag, telling the Reading Eagle in 2008, “I feel I am the embodiment of the American dream.”
2. He Survived Auschwitz
Fayerman was born in Poland in 1922. During World War II he was sent to live in Auschwitz. He survived and moved to the U.S. after the war ended. You can watch him talk about his survival above. The Nazis invaded Poland in 1939 when Fayerman was 17. During his time in Auschwitz and Buchenwald, Fayerman had been separated from his family, only reuniting with them after the war.
3. He Made Exclusive Locks for Jackie Kennedy in 1969
In 1946, he founded Baldwin’s Hardware in Newark, New Jersey, along with his father. He served his company until 2009 when he retired. According to Baldwin’s Hardware’s website, the Fayerman family arrived in New York City in 1945. The company first made and sold brass letter boxes and door knobs. Then, in 1969, Jackie Kennedy asked Baldwin’s Hardware to make never-to-be-replicated locks for her Martha’s Vineyard retreat.
4. He Turned His Life Into a Book Named A Survivor’s Story
Fayerman recounted his inspirational life with his book, A Survivor’s Story, in 2011. In the book, Fayerman wrote:
I think the most important lesson from it is, we would not want to repeat this ever again. So whenever another demigod comes up and starts hatred against some minorities, let’s remember what has happened during the Holocaust.
Speaking to WFMZ in 2003, Fayerman talked about his successful career, saying:
To think I was a poor immigrant not that many, well maybe, that many years ago, never could I have imagined that. This is American. This can only happen in America.
One reviewer of his book on Goodreads.com wrote:
Who could believe that a Holocaust survivor could tell a story with a happy ending?
5. He Spoke 7 Languages
According to his Facebook page, Fayerman spoke seven languages, Polish, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Russian. Since his retirement, Fayerman had been speaking at high schools and special interest groups. On his social media page he lists the operas of Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Puccini, Verdi and Wagner as his favorites. One high school student at Chambersburg High School, Allison Reinhardt spoke about Fayerman’s speaking:
Fayerman’s life was inspiring and really gave me a better understanding of the Holocaust and the true horrors he and his family had to endure. Severin spoke in a way that allowed you to place yourself in his position to understand not only the physical tolls he faced, but also the mental struggles that can only be displayed by a true survivor.