Samuel Pisar

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Samuel Pisar
Samuel Pisar, 2012
Born (1929-03-18)March 18, 1929
Białystok, Poland
Died July 27, 2015(2015-07-27) (aged 86)
Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States
Nationality Poland
Citizenship United States
Occupation Lawyer; Ambassador

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

Life and career[edit]

Pisar was born in Białystok, Poland, to David and Helaina 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] His 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 has been married twice. He has 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, USA. His step son Anthony Blinken, son of Judith is the Assistant to President Barack Obama and Deputy National Security advisor since Jan 25, 2013[1]

He was the founder of Yad Vashem France, Director of the Foundation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah and trustee of the Brookings Institution Washington. Pisar died of pneumonia on July 27, 2015 in Manhattan, New York.[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. He is considered one of the most influential trade lawyers of our time.[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 has also written a narration based on his experiences and his anger at God, for Leonard Bernstein's Symphony No. 3 ("Kaddish").[9][10] He says 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 expresses 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".[11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Wrestling with God, Haaretz
  2. ^ „Mein Überleben sollte kein Zufall sein“, Stuttgarter Zeitung, March 17, 2014
  3. ^ A survivor of Auschwitz battles his ghosts, New York Times
  4. ^ Christine Perkins (Fall 2005). "Blood & Hope: Samuel Pisar's Triumph of the Spirit". Harvard Law Bulletin. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Marlise Simons (6 December 1991). "Fresh Theories on Maxwell's Death". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-19. 
  8. ^ "Johanna Kaplan Wins Award for O My America". The New York Times. 4 May 1981. Retrieved 2008-04-19. 
  9. ^ David Patrick Stearns (17 April 2008). "For Bernstein's Kaddish a bold, personal voice". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2008-04-19. [dead link]
  10. ^ David Patrick Stearns (19 April 2008). "Orchestra lends its power to Kaddish". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2008-04-19. [dead link]
  11. ^ It's an Honour

External links[edit]