Ben Fainer, local author and holocaust survivor, will discuss his memoir, "Silent for Sixty Years," at the St. Louis County Library Headquarters, 1640 S. Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis, 63131, at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 23.
On Sept. 4, 1939 – three days after Germany's invasion of Poland set off World War II – German soldiers forced their way into the Fainer family apartment in Bedzin, Poland. Large for his age, 9-year-old Ben was imprisoned along with his father. He never saw his mother and three younger siblings again. Ben spent the remainder of the war in concentration camps – six different camps in total. After years of back-breaking labor, near starvation, grueling marches and horrendous brutality, Ben was liberated by American soldiers.
After the war, Ben became a tailor in Ireland and eventually moved to the U.S. with his wife and seven children. Ben did not speak of his experiences at the camps for 60 years, often deflecting curiosity about the number tattooed on his arm and dismissing requests by his own family to open up.
Five years ago, Ben became a Shoah educator at the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center. He has since spoken to thousands of people at local churches, schools and military bases about his experiences .
Ben's memoir, "Silent for Sixty Years," tells Ben's full story: the heartbreaking years in the camps, his miraculous survival, his rich family life and successful career in the United States, and the remarkable reunion with his American liberator more than 50 years after the war.