Sam Young, Kern County’s only known Holocaust survivor, passes away at 97

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KEENE, Calif. (KGET) – Sam Young, Kern County’s only known Holocaust surivor, has passed away at 97, his family said Sunday.

Born Samuel Young in 1922 in what was then the Czechoslovakian city of Selvus, now part of Ukraine, Young lived in the mountain community of Keene since 1978, where he and his wife co-owned the nearly 9,000-acre Keene ranch property.

During an interview with KGET’s Eytan Wallace last year on Yom HaShoah — the Hebrew name for Holocaust Remembrance Day — 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, Anti-Semitism  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 known to us.”

He later learned he and his family members were being taken to the village of Yahil’nytsya, where they were dumped 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 Dr. Lachovitz. Young recalled Lachovitz took care of Young’s family.     

The family spent roughly a year at the house, according to Young. Lachovitz warned the family about rumors that Nazis would soon round up the Jews in the area. The Young family escaped back to their hometown of Selvush where Young was drafted shortly after into the Hungarian military. There, he and fellow Jewish draftee conscripts were sent to the Nagybanya Labor camp.

“The Hungarian labor camp was a miserable place,” Young recalled, speaking with his thick eastern European accent. He said the intensive work and cold conditions made the experience difficult, and noted he and the other Jews in the camp were given little to no blankets at night.

However, Young said his will reamined strong, and in the end, he and his family survived.

When he spoke with KGET, Young said he had a message for the world: “Veahavta lereacha kamocha — Do to your fellow man what you would do to yourself.”

In accordance with Jewish law, tradition, and customs, Young’s funeral took place shortly after he passed away.

He is survived by his wife Betty, son Robert (Patty), one grandchild, and one great grandchild.

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