Michael Bornstein may have only been four years old during the Holocaust, but he’ll always have B-1148 tattooed on his arm. And he still gets nervous in crowded New York City subway cars, saying it reminds him of riding in cattle cars on the way to Auschwitz.
Author of Survivors Club, Michael and his daughter Debbie Bornstein Holinstat, shared their family’s inspirational story with more than 1,200 eighth graders at Congregation Beth Shalom.
In eighth grade, the students learn about the Holocaust, and Michael’s story adds compassion and personalizes something they only read in textbooks.
Michael was only four year old when his town of Zarki, Poland was invaded. He spent seven months in Auschwitz with his mother and grandmother. He shares his experiences of learning about his father’s and older brother’s deaths, and how his mother smuggled him bread and cold potato soup. So malnourished and dehydrated that he couldn’t even grow hair, Michael’s grandmother took him to the infirmary, escaping what would later be known as the Death March.
Michael moved to the United States in 1951 at the age of 11.
It took a while for Michael to be able to share his experiences with even his family. When he was ready, his daughter, author and TV producer Debbie, helped research and write his memoir.
“We share this story so kids like you remember these stories,” said Michael. “My family never saw this happening and the only way to stop it was to be aware.”