Sarah Powley, Chair
Greater Lafayette Holocaust Remembrance Conference
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 22, 2021
Holocaust Conference Features Purdue Professor's Family
Sam Wachs: A Survivor's Journey
West Lafayette, Ind. - Holocaust survivor Sam Wachs, father of Purdue Industrial Engineering professor Juan Wachs, is the featured speaker for the Greater Lafayette Holocaust Remembrance Conference. Mr. Wachs will relate the story of his post-WWII journey from Poland to Argentina to Israel in two Zoom presentations: Thursday, April 8 from noon until 1:30 pm and again on Tuesday, April 13th from 7 until 8:30 pm. Following the April 8 presentation, Purdue Department of History professor Rebekah Klein-Pejšová will conduct a live Q/A session with Mr. Wachs. On April 13th, his son Professor Juan Wachs will be interviewed by Professor Klein-Pejšová. Register for either or both presentations, at GLHRC.org.
“Sam Wachs’ journey illustrates the diaspora experience of so many Jews following WWII,” says Sarah Powley, Chair of the Greater Lafayette Holocaust Remembrance Committee. “It’s a story our Conference hasn’t presented before, and we are pleased that Mr. Wachs will share his experiences with us on Yom HaShoah, April 8th, Holocaust Remembrance Day around the world."
Sam Wachs was born in October 1938 in Zalesczyki, Poland, in a region of the country that is now part of Ukraine. When Sam was five years old, he and his mother were in hiding on a neighbor’s farm. He witnessed his mother’s capture by the Nazis but was saved himself by the farmer’s wife. She carried him in a sack to his aunt, his mother’s sister, who was interned in a forced labor camp nearby. He was the only child in the camp. Sam and his aunt survived the war and emigrated from Poland to Argentina.
In Buenos Aires, Sam attended school and ultimately achieved his Six-Year Diploma, the equivalent of a Master’s Degree. After graduation, he signed on with General Electric, first as an electrical field engineer and later as a gas turbine field engineer. Widowed in 1988 and with his sons nearly grown, Sam decided to change his life. He had wanted to immigrate to Israel since his youth, so as soon as Juan graduated from high school, Sam and his boys did just that, arriving in 1991. In 1996, Sam remarried.
Once in Israel, Sam connected with survivors of the same village in Poland where he had lived as a young child and learned then the story of his own rescue. Sam’s talk is entitled “A Survivor’s Journey: Present to Past to Future.” In his presentation, Sam will relate the details of his literal journey from continent to continent and his journey to recover his past. “What can be learned from people like myself?” Sam asks us. “What can be done to avoid what happened in the past? What is the responsibility of each of us?”