A local holocaust survivor shared his story on Thursday, Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. Sam Young, 96, now resides in the beautiful, peaceful, mountain community of Keene, a far contrast from what he experienced during the holocaust.
Born in 1922 in what was then the Czechoslovakian city of Selvus, now part of Ukraine, young has lived in the community of Keene since 1978, where he and his wife have co-owned the nearly 9 thousand acre Keene ranch.
Young described life on the ranch as serene and calm, similar to his childhood in the 1920’s and 30’s.
“We lived a very normal, normal life,” he said. But that normal life became anything but normal shortly after Young graduated high school in 1941.
“Suddenly, antisemitism started crawling up on us.” He said the situation for his sister, parents, and himself became even worse when the Hungarian military took over his country of birth and immediately went after the Jews.
“They came and arrested us,” Young siad. “We were put in buses and shipped to an area which was not at all to an area unknown to us.”
He later would learn he and his family were being taken to the village of Yahil’nytsya, where they were dumped off with other Jewish families. Arrangements were made for them to stay at the house of a man in the village. Young remembered the man only as Doctor Lachovitz. Young recalled Lachovitz took care of Young’s family.
The family spent roughly one year at the house, according to Young. Lachovitz warned the family about rumors he heard that Nazis would soon round up the Jews in the area. Young and his family escaped back to their home town of Selvush. Young was drafted shortly after into the Hungarian military, where he and fellow Jewish drafte conscripts were sent to the Nagybanya Labor camp.
“The hungarian labor camp was a miserable place,” Young recalled in his thick eastern European accent. He said the intensive work and cold conditions made the experience difficult; he noted being given little to no blankets at night.
In the end, Young and his family survived.
On this Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, he has a message for the world.
“Veahavta lereacha kamocha — do to your fellow man what you would do to yourself.”
Young will turn 97 this December.