Sam Bloch, a Holocaust survivor who committed much of his life to ensuring that the murder of millions of Jews would not be denied and the lives they led would not be forgotten, has died.
Bloch, who was an executive of the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency for 50 years, died Sunday, Feb. 4. He was 94.
He was one of the principal organizers of historic survivor gatherings in Jerusalem, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York.
Bloch was a founder of Beit Hatfutsot: The Museum of the Jewish People (then known as the Museum of the Jewish Diaspora) and served as chairman of the American Friends of Beit Hatfutsot and a member of its Board of Governors. For many years he was also a member of the board of directors of the American Section of the World Jewish Congress.
In addition, Bloch was a founding member of the International Society for Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust remembrance authority, and a founder of the American Friends of the IDF.
Bloch was born in Ivie, Poland, in what today is Belarus. He attended high school in Vilna, and was home on a school break when World War II broke out, according to information provided by his family.
His father was murdered by the Einsatzgruppen Nazi mobile killing unit, and Bloch, his mother and brother escaped from the Jewish ghetto and hid first with Christian farmers and then in the woods. They later joined the Bielski partisan brigade and were able to survive the war.
He was the youngest leader of the Jewish Committee that governed the Bergen-Belsen Displaced Persons Camp. He met and married his wife of 69 years, Lilly Czaban, in the DP camp, from where they immigrated to the United States.
Bloch served as president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants; president of the World Federation of Bergen-Belsen Survivors Associations; chairman of the Advisory Council of the Foundation for World War II Memorial Sites in Lower Saxony, Germany, and served as a member of its board.
In 1981, Elie Wiesel, then-chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, appointed him as chairman of the council’s Board of Advisers as well as a member of its Development, Days of Remembrance, and Content committees.
He is survived by his wife, two daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren. PJC