On September 12, 1939, barely two weeks into the German invasion of Poland, the childhood of nine-year old Nathan Poremba came to an abrupt end when his father was murdered outside his hometown of Wieliczka. For the next five and a half years, Nathan managed to outwit the Nazis through determination and sheer will. Repeatedly tempting fate, he refused to wear the required Star of David armband, snuck around Wieliczka, and purchased illegal train tickets.
After obtaining false papers bearing the name of a dead Christian boy named “Staszek Surdel”, Nathan worked at various jobs and survived two concentration camps, convincing Poles and Germans alike that he was Polish. It would take him half a century to begin talking about his harrowing ordeal. Joel Poremba’s account of his father’s improbable Holocaust survival, published in book form in 2021, constitutes a fitting tribute to a life of extreme hardship and endurance.
Orange County resident Joel Poremba, a graduate of Western State University, College of Law, and the University of California, San Diego with a degree in political science, is a business attorney with twenty-four years of litigation experience in both state and federal courts.
Copies of Poremba’s book, “My Name is Staszek Surdel,” will be available for purchase after the lecture (cash and credit cards accepted).
About the Holocaust Living History Workshop
This event is a part of the Holocaust Living History Workshop (HLHW) series, an education and outreach program sponsored by the UC San Diego Library and the Jewish Studies program. It aims to preserve the memories of the victims and survivors of the Holocaust by offering public events involving witnesses, descendants and scholars and through the use of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute’s Visual History Archive. Past HLHW workshops are now part of the Library’s digital collections and can be accessed online here.
Sponsor: The Lou Dunst Memorial Lecture