Sam R. Harris (Sammy – Szlamek Rzeznik) is one of the youngest Holocaust survivors. Born in Deblin, Poland, in 1935, he was just 4 years old when his town was bombed and he witnessed death and destruction for the first time. Having lost his parents and most of his family during the Holocaust, Sammy hid, from the ages of seven to nine-and-a-half, in two concentration camps: Deblin and Czestochowa. Had he been found, he would have been killed.
Sammy, although an orphan when he arrived in the USA at the age of twelve, was filled with hope about the possibilities awaiting him. Even though he didn’t know anyone in the USA, and did not know what was in store for him, he was excited about what the future held. This optimism, today still so much part of Sam Harris’ upbeat personality, is infectious and inspirational. Speaking to thousands of children and adults annually, he keeps the gifts of freedom and the seemingly endless possibilities at the forefront of his life, while, simultaneously, honoring the memories of the millions who were murdered during the Holocaust, and, especially, the one-and-a-half-million Jewish children who died. A successful business man and the recipient of many awards, Sam Harris was the instrumental force behind the building of the 65,000 square foot Illinois Holocaust Museum and Educational Center, of which he is President Emeritus.