From Nazi Prisoner to Wall Street King: The Indefatigable Siggi Wilzig
By the time he arrived in the United States at the age of 21, Siggi Wilzig had survived Auschwitz, Mauthausen, two death marches and near starvation. With only a grade school education and $200 in his pocket, he had no choice but to shovel snow, press bowties and sell tires to keep himself fed.
But Siggi had made himself three promises when he left Europe: He’d never go hungry again. He’d support the Jewish people. And he’d speak out against injustice.
So, with the same ingenuity and grit he’d mustered to endure four years in the hands of the Germans, he tackled America. Twenty years later, he was president of a Texas oil company. Ten years after that he had grown a small New Jersey bank into a commercial institution with more than $4 billion in assets.
Clearly, Siggi never knew hunger again. Nor did he forget his other promises.
By the time of his death in 2003, he’d raised more than $100 million for Israel Bonds – and given millions more to other Jewish charities. A founding member of the Holocaust Memorial Council, he became the first Holocaust survivor to teach West Point cadets a profound lesson in justice.
Join us to hear from Joshua Greene, author of the new biography Unstoppable, about this force of nature who pulled himself up from the depths of hell to conquer his new country. The lessons of Siggi’s life of resilience and determination are especially relevant now as we emerge from the trauma of the pandemic.
A Holocaust scholar, Joshua Greene is the author of two prior books about the Holocaust, a popular lecturer and a documentary filmmaker whose work has aired on PBS and Discovery.
In conversation with Rabbi Anne Brener and Dr. Michael Berenbaum.
Dr. Michael Berenbaum is an American scholar, professor, rabbi, writer, and filmmaker, who specializes in the study of the Holocaust. He is the founding partner of Berenbaum Jacobs Associates, a firm designing Museums, Special Exhibitions, Memorials and Educational Centers.
Rabbi Anne Brener, LCSW, is professor of ritual and human development at the Academy for Jewish Religion, California. She is a psychotherapist and author, specializing in grief and healing. Her acclaimed book, Mourning & Mitzvah: A Guided Journal for Walking the Mourner’s Path, is on Amazon’s list of the top 100 books of Jewish Life.
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