Samuel Pisar

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Samuel Pisar
Samuel Pisar, 2012
Born(1929-03-18)March 18, 1929
Białystok, Poland
DiedJuly 27, 2015(2015-07-27) (aged 86)
New York, New York, U.S.
CitizenshipUnited States
OccupationLawyer, author, diplomat

Samuel Pisar (March 18, 1929 – July 27, 2015) was a Polish-born American lawyer, author, and Holocaust survivor.


Pisar was born in Białystok, Poland, to David and Helaina (née Suchowolski) Pisar. His father established the region's first taxi service.[1]

His parents and younger sister Frieda were murdered by German Nazis. Pisar was sent to Majdanek, Bliżyn, Auschwitz, Sachsenhausen, Oranienburg, Dachau and ultimately to the Engelberg Tunnel near Leonberg.[2] At the end of the war, he escaped during a death march.[1]

After the liberation, Pisar spent a year and a half in the American occupation zone of Germany, engaging in black marketeering with fellow survivors.[3] He was rescued by an aunt living in Paris.[1] An uncle sent him to Melbourne, Australia, where he resumed his studies.

He attended George Taylor and Staff School (now Taylors College) and went on to attain a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Melbourne in 1953.[4] After recovering from a bout of tuberculosis, he traveled to the United States and earned a Juris Doctor from Harvard University.[1] He also held a doctorate from the Sorbonne.


Pisar was married twice. He had two daughters from his first wife, Norma Pisar, and one from his second wife, Judith, with whom he lived in Paris and New York City. His stepson, Judith's son, Anthony Blinken is a former Deputy Secretary of State.[1]


Pisar co-founded Yad Vashem-France, is a Director of the Foundation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah, and a Trustee of the Brookings Institution Washington.[citation needed]


Pisar died of pneumonia on July 27, 2015 in Manhattan, age 86.[5][6]

Legal career[edit]

In 1950, Pisar worked for the United Nations in New York and Paris. He returned to Washington in 1960 to become a member of John Fitzgerald Kennedy's economic and foreign policy task force. He was also an advisor to the State Department, the Senate and House committees.[1]

As a lawyer, Pisar's clients included many Fortune 500 companies and many known business leaders of the 20th and 21st century.[7] His books have been translated into many languages.[1]

Literary career[edit]

Pisar's memoir, Of Blood and Hope, in which he tells the story of how he survived the Holocaust, received the Present Tense literary award in 1981.[8] He wrote a narration based on his experiences and his anger at God, for Leonard Bernstein's Symphony No. 3 ("Kaddish"). He stated that the idea came from Bernstein, who felt Pisar could bring a more authentic voice to the symphony than he could, not having gone through the Holocaust himself.[1]

After Bernstein's death and the attacks on the World Trade Center, Pisar wrote Dialogue with God, in which he expressed his concern for the future of mankind. In June 2009, the poem was recited by Pisar at a performance of Kaddish at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel.[1]


Among distinctions, he is a Grand Officer of the French Legion of Honour and a Commander of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland. In March 1995 Pisar was appointed an Honorary Officer of the Order of Australia, "for service to international relations and human rights".[6][9]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Wrestling With God". Archived from the original on February 2, 2010. Retrieved June 14, 2009.
  2. ^ "Leonberg: "Mein Überleben sollte kein Zufall sein" - Böblingen - Stuttgarter Zeitung Mobil". March 17, 2014. Retrieved 2015-12-01.
  3. ^ "After Survival, a Journey to Self-Recovery". The New York Times. July 11, 2009. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
  4. ^ Christine Perkins (Fall 2005). "Blood & Hope: Samuel Pisar's Triumph of the Spirit". Harvard Law Bulletin. Retrieved 2008-09-09.
  5. ^ [1] Archived August 16, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ a b "Samuel Pisar Dies at 86; Lawyer and Adviser Survived Nazi Camps". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-12-01.
  7. ^ Marlise Simons (December 6, 1991). "Fresh Theories on Maxwell's Death". The New York Times. Retrieved April 19, 2008.
  8. ^ "Johanna Kaplan Wins Award for O My America". The New York Times. May 4, 1981. Retrieved April 19, 2008.
  9. ^ "PISAR, Samuel [H]". March 30, 1995. Retrieved March 25, 2018.

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