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Pierre Berg

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Pierre Berg spent 18 months as a prisoner in a Nazi death camp, and wrote down his story not long after his escape. In his first-ever interview, Pierre gives his unromantic view of survival, tells how he makes use of the serial number tattooed on his arm, and hopes to find a publisher for his memoir, SCHEISSHAUS LUCK: THE REMEMBRANCES OF A FRENCH TEEN IN AUSCHWITZ. Here’s the opening to his book:

If you’re seeking a Holocaust survivor’s memoir with a profound philosophical or poetic statement on the reasons six million Jews and many millions of other unlucky souls were slaughtered and why a person like myself survived the Nazi camps, you’ve opened the wrong book. I’d be lying if I said I knew the reason why or if I even believed there is a reason I’m still alive. As far as I’m concerned it was all shithouse luck, which is to say – inelegantly – that I kept landing on the right side of the randomness of life.

Describe the town you grew up in, and what your life was like before the Nazis occupied France. What had your attention, what did you dream of becoming, what did you cherish, what did you worry about?

I grew up in Nice, which is on the Mediterranean coast. At that time it was the fourth largest city in France. I was going to school and doing as much fishing as I could in my spare time. I was 14 when the war started, so I’d have to say girls and politics occupied most of my attention at that time. It was hard to think about any long-term, future goals when Hitler was causing such confusion in Europe and the French government was so unstable. At that time I entertained the thought of going into the Navy so I could see all the French colonies.

What did I cherish? Like a typical teenager, the neighborhood girls.

What did I worry about? As 1939 approached I worried more and more about the possibility of a war in France.

Pierre Berg, one year after WWII

Most of us are familiar with the yellow triangles Jews were forced to wear on their clothes. Why did you wear a red triangle? And how did you end up at Auschwitz?

A red triangle was for political prisoners, basically anybody who wasn’t a Nazi. When I was picked up in 1943, the Gestapo and collaborating millice were at times almost randomly picking up people to use them as slave labor for the Nazi war effort. I was picked up because I stopped to visit a school friend whose house was being raided by the Gestapo. Somehow they had found out that he had a shortwave radio, which he and I used to entertain our school friends. I knocked on the door and found a Luger in my face.

I was going to be sent from a camp in Paris, Drancy, to another camp in France, but I made the mistake of asking for the return of my confiscated money. What I didn’t know at the time was that the Gestapo were occupying my parents’ house and cleaning it out.

Tell me what was happening to your parents at the time.

My father had leukemia and a couple of weeks before I was arrested my mother escorted him to a hospital in the French Alps. When they arrived back in Nice the Gestapo officers were living in our house. My mother said they were walking up our street and could see an officer in the window, so they stayed with friends and relatives until the Allied troops pushed the Germans out of France. When I arrived home almost every piece of furniture, paintings, and family heirlooms were gone. The Nazis had even found a box of my mother’s jewelry that I had buried in our backyard.

It was my Dad’s leukemia that brought us to the United States. He had heard that there was a doctor in Los Angeles that was using the fall-out from hydrogen bombs on cancer patients. It was an experimental treatment and it more or less quickened my father’s death.

Is there a person or an image or a sound or smell from your time at Auschwitz that you can share with me?

The way you phrased this question, asking if there was a smell from my time in Auschwitz made me remember something that isn’t in my memoir. I was on a work detail digging trenches and laying pipes at the massive IG Farben chemical plant. A co-worker went to use the toilet, which was an open ditch with a plank over it that you would perch yourself on. The plank broke and he was floundering in a stinking, gooey pool of human waste. He couldn’t climb out and we were trying to pull him up with our shovels when a SS guard came over. He asked why we weren’t working and we pointed to our comrade down below, who was clinging to one of the shovels. The guard said, “He’s too messy. He’s not worth cleaning.” He then shot him and chased us back to work. Witnessing SS guards shooting prisoners was a common occurrence in my 18 months of captivity.

Tell me about your tattoo. Do you remember who gave it to you and the context of getting tattooed? What was your feeling then, and what is it now, to carry that mark?

This is from my memoir:

“At the first table, a son of a Warsaw haberdasher sewed the number, 172649, onto my jacket and pants. I sat down at the next table where a German prisoner wrote my name and serial number on a card. From the corner of my eye, I watched alarmed as the man next to me got tattooed. The bleeding numbers were taking up his whole forearm. The German processing me grabbed my left arm, dipped his pen into his white, porcelain inkstand and attacked my forearm with fast, little jabs. I clenched my teeth, but the physical pain was less than the stinging realization that the numbers 172649 meant I was now officially property of the Third Reich.

“Will this ever come off?”

He shook his head. “It’s permanent.”

Considering that I’m stuck with my tattoo, I put it to practical use. I’ve used it as a PIN number and I play the lottery with it. Matter of fact I need to walk down to the liquor store and buy a ticket this afternoon. I won’t allow myself to look at it as a negative.

How does a healthy teenager stay sane in the midst of such horror? Did you vacate emotionally? Did you create some kind of meaning in your days there? Did you hold to anything specific from the past or the future to get you through?

On a daily basis I disassociated myself from what was happening around me. I did not allow myself to dwell on the cruelty that I witnessed, and that was a constant, minute-to-minute struggle. There are certain events that are fresh in my mind… No, really it is people’s faces that are vibrant in my mind’s eye as if I had seen them a half hour ago.

I would self-hypnotize myself to think I was standing on the warm shoreline of Nice while I was ankle deep in icy sludge. There was one person I did think about a lot and hoped to see again when I was free. While in the camp in Paris I met and fell for a 16 year old red head, Stella. We were both transported to Auschwitz and my memories of our times together helped keep my morale up.

Do you know what happened to Stella?

Susan, I don’t know how to answer that without giving away the ending of my memoir. Hmmm…

While I was in Wustrow I stayed with a German ex-Communist truck driver, who the Red Army made the mayor of the town. Because I could speak four languages, he asked me to be his police officer. Wustrow was getting an influx of displaced people, the majority of them former concentration camp prisoners, who came to our one room city hall seeking help. Most wanted information on how to get home, but there were many women who came to report being raped by Red Army soldiers (There were also many Germen women in and around Wustrow who were coming in to report being raped, too). I always asked the former female prisoners if they ever came across a young French woman with red hair.

One day a group of displaced women were gathered in the center of Wustrow. By the striped pajamas a couple of them were wearing I knew they had been in Auschwitz. I asked if they had known of a girl named Stella. One of them said that they had left a handful of sick women at an abandoned farm and thought that one of them was French and named Stella. I went to the farm, which was in reality a hunting lodge. I found six bodies in a chicken coop. One of them could have been Stella, she had red hair, but I’ll never be 100% sure.

I’m not sure how to word this question but I desperately want to know if you sang while you were there, or if you created any sort of art or anything at all.

I didn’t sing this song, put I did hum it in Auschwitz. I don’t remember the title of the song, but I can give you a verse of it in French: “Terre enfin libre ou nous pouvons reviver aimer, aimer” – “Place where we are free to live and love, love.”

We were singing this song when we left France for Auschwitz.

I had my friend, Kevin Dolgin, track down and translate the song for me. Here is a link to an MP3 of it. It’s called, “Le Chant des Marais.”

In the portion of the memoir you sent me, you said that the false identification papers you gave up when you were captured made it impossible for your parents to trace you. Did you see your parents again? And if so, what did they believe happened to you when you had gone missing for over a year?

Even if I had handed the Gestapo my true papers there would have been no way for my parents to trace me to Auschwitz. The Nazis kept detailed records, but it was for their own benefit. For everyone else it was a secret. Neighbors informed my parents that I had been picked up, but they had no idea where I was or what I was going through until I returned home. For those 18 months They had no idea if I was alive or dead.

How strange was it to try to return to a normal life? Where do store that trauma?

I spent 6 weeks in Wustrow, Germany at the end of the war recovering so I could have enough strength to walk to the American lines, which were on the other side of the Elbe River (about 300 miles). Then I had to take a train to Paris and was in a military hospital for 5 weeks before I took a train home. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I had time to adapt to my newfound freedom before I arrived back home. The only thing I found difficult to adapt to was school. I just couldn’t concentrate and maybe that was because of trauma. I have to admit I never gave it much thought.

This photo comes from the Holocaust Museum.

Tell me the meaning of “Scheisshaus Luck” and how you chose it for the title of your memoir.

Scheisshaus Luck translates to shithouse luck, which means a lucky coincidence, and it was lucky coincidences that kept me alive for those 18 months. While I was working with Brian he commented one day that I always joked that it was shithouse luck that I survived, and he thought it would make a good title for my memoir. I agreed.

You and Brian have chosen to tell your story as close to the point of view as you journaled it as a teenager. Talk to me about that decision, and why your insights all these years later were not a part of this memoir.

At 83, I don’t feel I have any new or fresh insight on the Holocaust; on why it happened and what can be done to prevent it from happening again. Seemingly we haven’t learned a thing and there have been so many books published and monuments built. Genocide has continued to happen constantly on this planet since the end of WWII.

I wrote my original remembrances two years after the war and Brian and I decided that we didn’t want to give a history lesson and that placing the reader in my 18 year old shoes would have more impact then listening to an old fart pontificate. In my original remembrances, which I wrote when I arrived in Los Angeles with my family, I left out many events to spare my Mother who was typing my hand written pages. I wanted to spare her, censoring myself in a way I guess.

Given what you’ve lived through, have you any thoughts on what is happening in the world today? Any wisdom or opinion you’d like to share?

Like I said before, sadly we haven’t learned a thing. People still will follow dictators. I don’t want to sound completely negative because the response of my friends on MySpace gives me hope that maybe some day as a human race we will wake up.

Tell me about your life now. What are you passionate about? What do love? What hurts you? What do you want to give or receive in this half of your life?

I usher at a couple of theaters here in Los Angeles and that keeps me busy and happy. You meet a lot of different people that way and I get a lot of cigarette breaks (I’ve been smoking since I was 10 years old).

What do I love? I love my girlfriend of 35 years. What hurts me? Neo-Nazis and skinheads who say the Holocaust never happened.

At my age, I’m running out of time but I’d like to see peace on earth, or at least see more of us treating one another with kindness. And I’d like to see my memoir published.

Thanks for being here, my friend.


You can visit Pierre on MySpace. Thanks for stopping by!


Postscript: Pierre has now published his book, SCHEISSHAUS LUCK. Please check it out!

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  • lance reynald
    October 3, 2007

    Thank you, Pierre.

    thank you so very much for sharing what you know, of everything…life, cruelty, love and shithouse luck.

    Susan, thank you for bringing Pierre to the park.

    beautiful interview you two! just beautiful, with all my heart, Thanks.

  • Sarah Bain
    October 3, 2007

    Thank you, Pierre, my heart is larger.

  • Daryl
    October 3, 2007

    merci Pierre! i often contemplate what it would be like if a new holocaust were to occur; how i would act if my neighborhood were invaded by Nazi-like offenders. i like your “Sheisshaus Luck” philosophy and will see how i can incorporate that attitude into my existence. i’m glad you’ve lived so long to be able tell your story! and your current career as a usher sounds so romantic. and a girlfriend of 35 years… oh envy! {fantastic questions in your interview Susan!}

  • Nathalie
    October 3, 2007

    Thank you both for this.
    If the memoir ever gets published I’d be certainly interested in reading it.

  • Kimberly
    October 3, 2007

    What a treasure to know your story, Pierre! I’ll anxiously await your memoir, so I can read more.

    What a touching way to start my day!

    Special thanks to Kevin for tracking down “Le Chant des Marais” Such a poignant song! Pierre, I wonder how that made you feel after hearing it again after so much time? Would you feel comfortable sharing that with us?

  • lois Sandusky
    October 3, 2007

    I feel this interview deeply and thank you both for having it in this space where I could read it and know about it. I’m especially touched by the little pops of joy that I can tell that Pierre actually experiences in his life now–a model for the rest of us with our tiny problems and traumas. Thank you.

  • Robin Slick
    October 3, 2007

    For once, I can’t put into words exactly what I’m thinking and feeling right now other than to say I strongly agree we’ve learned nothing from the past and I fear for our future. Hell, I fear for our present.

    Thank you both for an incredible, thought provoking interview.

  • gail siegel
    October 3, 2007

    I am very moved by this and completely inarticulate. Pierre, have you gone back to France since the war’s end? If you did, what was that like?

  • Ellen Meister
    October 3, 2007

    This is profoundly moving. I hope a smart publisher sees this so Pierre’s book can reach people. We need it.

    I’m off to add him as a MySpace friend …


  • Queer john
    October 3, 2007

    Thank you both for this interview. I do hope that the book gets published.

  • Juliet deWal
    October 3, 2007

    Pierre, there is so much I’d love to say; words to add to yours, questions and comments… and yet I am loathe to get fingerprints on the tenderness you have shared here.
    Thank you for sharing. You may think it was shithouse luck, but I believe you lived for your story to be told.
    Susan, if you would forward my email address to Pierre, I would be glad to have my publishing house take a look at whether we can publish him, or not.

  • Susan Henderson
    October 3, 2007

    Lance – That’s what I wanted to say, but Lance said it better.

    Sarah – Aw.

    Daryl – Oh, Daryl, who is tattooed in a very discreet spot on my stomach, I agree, it’s so refreshing to hear Pierre’s unromantic view of this. It’s one of the many reasons I like him.

    Nathalie – Me, too.

    Kimberly – Yeah, the recording of that song gives me chills. Pierre, I’d love to hear your answer to Kimberly’s question, too, if it’s one you want to answer.

    Lois – Good to have you here. And yes, it puts all my complaining in perspective.

    Robin – You said it. A sense of righteousness is usually the first clue to tell you you’re headed down the wrong path.

    Gail – I’d love to know, too.

    Ellen – It makes me so happy to know you guys are listening to Pierre’s story. Thanks, Ellen, and everyone, for being here.

    Queer John – Welcome! I’m glad you’re here.

    Juliet – With pleasure. xo

  • Jody Reale
    October 3, 2007

    There’s so much here that I’m speechless–in a good way.
    In gratitude,

  • Jill
    October 3, 2007

    Thanks for spreading awareness of Pierre’s book. I wonder if anyone at the Holocause Memorial Museum would know who could publish the book. Also, I wonder if NPR would like to do an interview of him.

  • Jordan E. Rosenfeld
    October 3, 2007

    Pierre, I so want to read your book. My own grandparents were lucky to leave Germany as teens, with Palestinian youth groups. To this day my Opa’s (age 93) great lament is that he was unable to bring his father over and thus feels he consigned him to death at the hands of the nazis. He can’t rid himself of his father’s final pleading letters saying to me, “I can’t throw him away twice.”

    Thank you for this

  • Lori Oliva
    October 3, 2007

    Amazing interview. Thank you for sharing so many of your poignant memories. I agree with Robin…I can’t put into words what I’m feeling or thinking. It is so humbling to read, and I can only imagine how it is to remember them. But these stories must be told. I am sure a publisher will agree.

  • Carolyn Burns Bass
    October 3, 2007

    I am richer for having read today’s interview. I hope I’ll have the opportunity to read Pierre’s memoir soon.

  • Michael D. Williams
    October 3, 2007

    What can you say…..

  • Lizzy
    October 3, 2007

    Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. There’s nothing I can add to this… I don’t even know what to say. But thank you.

  • Jessica
    October 3, 2007

    Pierre, I would love to read your memoir. Thank you for your words. I felt you here with me, an inch away. And Susan, your question about smells smacked me in the nose. When I taped my father’s remembrances of the war–and he spent much of it in France–I realized after, that he didn’t talk about smells or tastes. But he remembered the chill in his spine from the cold winter. It’s something he talks about and I think, oddly, it’s one reason he is happy he has left New England and spending these years in Southern California.

    Pierre, you live in the present. That’s what I feel from you. What a rare gift.


  • bruce bauman
    October 3, 2007

    Thanks to both of you for the wonderful interview. Each time I read a story that was truly horrific, it reminds me to keep my life in perspective. Pierre, your humor – using the dehumanizing tattoo as a pin number- and humility humble us all. And your vitality and generosity are a hopeful sign to all of us.

  • lance reynald
    October 3, 2007

    this piece, beyond so many others, has taken root deep inside my heart.

    the human beauty of Monsieur Berg astounds me.

    anyone willing to listen to me… I must insist someone publish this story, and with the dignity and style it deserves.

    xo. LR

  • Jonathan Evison
    October 3, 2007

    …thank you, pierre, and susan, for lending some much needed perspective to my day, and double thanks, pierre, for having the courage and fortitude to set these experiences down on paper . . .

  • Juliet deWal
    October 3, 2007

    Just waiting for the word, my friend. Just waiting.

  • Shelley Marlow
    October 4, 2007

    Beautifully told, Pierre.

    Thanks to you and Susan.

    And to Kevin for finding Le Chant des Marais.

  • Simon Haynes
    October 4, 2007

    I first read Pierre’s story on his Myspace profile, and he wrote so well I was really hoping his book would see print. Fingers crossed, because it deserves to be out there for everyone to read.

  • Pierre Berg
    October 4, 2007

    I’m speechless. I never expected such a response (I had no idea people would be able to leave comments). A heartfelt thank you to all of you who took time out of your busy lives to read the interview and leave such thoughtful words.

    I’m going to copy Susan here.

    Lance: Thanks again for telling others about Susan’s wonderful interview. She asked brilliant questions. She made me think and that is not always fun at my age.

    Sarah: My heart is larger now, too.

    Daryl: Let me know how “Scheisshaus Luck philosophy” works for you. And I never looked at my ushering as romantic. Thank you for giving me another point of view.

    Kimberly: Yes, a very special thanks to Kevin for finding “Le Chant des Marais”. When I heard the song it made me tingle with pride just like it did when my fellow prisoners were singing it at the Drancy camp. The song was always a source of strength for me. I have to admit I was very frustrated with myself that I couldn’t remember the title and most of the words. Well, now with the song now on my computer I can sing it to my grave.

    Lois: I never pictured me as anyone’s model, but thank you. You made an old man blush.

    Robin : Sadly, I fear for our present, too.

    Gail: I went back once in the early 60’s. I was glad to see old friends, but my life was firmly planted in the United States. I’m glad my life took the path that it did.

    Ellen: Thank you again for becoming my MySpace friend.

    Juliet: I will be contacting you. Thank you.

    Dear Jordan: Thank you so much for sharing your grandfather’s story. Even though I was in the camps for 18 months, I was luckier then most because I didn’t lose any family members to the Nazis.

    Jessica: Susan’s question about smells was brilliant. Thank you for sharing your father’s remembrance.

    Bruce: Thank you for your words. You made an old man blush, too.

    It means so much to me to hear from so many of you that you want to read my memoir. One way or another, I hope that will happen soon.

    Again, thank you all

  • Sean
    October 4, 2007

    With all the insignificant trash that publishers flood the literary market with year after year, it’s a crime that Pierre’s memoir hasn’t found a pubisher. As a regular visitor to Pieree’s MySpace page, I yearn to learn more and more of his amazing experience. I can only hope people in the literary industry will come across these postings and that these comments will pique their interest in Pierre’s story. Best of luck Pierre.

  • Aurelio O'Brien
    October 4, 2007

    Pierre, your memoir is one that really must be published. I hope someone with the wisdom to see this steps forward soon.

    (And I would suggest an advance of $172,649.00 since the lottery is a long shot.)

    As others here have pointed out, it is difficult to put into words how it feels to hear your story, especially when it is rendered in such a personal way. I am sad you had to go through such hateful treatment.

    I think the idea of telling your story in your own teenage narrative is a brilliant one, because this is not about history, but about humanity, and unfortunately about our own time too, and children in parts of the world today who face the same insanity, and our own encounters with evil men and institutions. Part of growing up and becoming an adult is the realization that such evil truly exists, and finding ways to face it, to survive it, to fight it.

    Kudos to you too, Susan, for giving Pierre your kind support and sharing his story with us.

  • Betsy
    October 4, 2007

    Pierre and Susan, I add my thanks for this, and to Pierre I also add that I truly admire your lovely spirit. As echoed by many of the comments, it’s hard to know what to say, but I too would love to be able to read this memoir.

  • Susan Henderson
    October 4, 2007

    Jody – Glad you’re here.

    Jill – Welcome! That’s a wonderful idea of exploring some interest from the Holocaust Museum. They’re linked to this interview. Lots of NPR folks hang out at LitPark, so if any of you want to take the ball and run with it, that would be great.

    Jordan – Aw. I’m so sorry your Opa carries that kind of guilt.

    Lori – I’m wishing good things about your book, too. That goes for a whole lot of you.

    Carolyn – Me, too.

    Michael – Sometimes just letting someone know we heard them is enough.

    Lizzy – Thanks for being here.

    Jessica – Thanks for what you’re doing behind the scenes. xo

    Bruce – Good to have you here. Bruce, by the way, wrote a really excellent novel (which has just been optioned by a film company) that has very much to do with the Holocaust. I reviewed his book a while back on Laila Lalami’s site.

    Lance – Such a full heart.

    Jonathan – It’s perspective I need again and again.

    Juliet – xo

    Shelley – I am so grateful to hear that song. (Thanks again, Kevin.)

    Simon – Lots of us have our fingers crossed, and thanks to those of you who are actively trying to help Pierre get his story out. I’m so appreciative.

    Pierre – Love to you.

    Sean – Welcome to LitPark!

    Aurelio – I’ll second everything that you said.

    Betsy – That makes a whole lot of us wanting to read this memoir. I hope it happens soon!

  • Elizabeth
    October 5, 2007

    Pierre, your memoir is timely. We all need to be reminded of the atrocities people can do to their fellow humans, not to wallow in anguish, but to strive to let our higher selves shine and commit acts of kindness, healing, and generosity where there is no hope. Not only will this memoir tell people about Holocaust atrocities, but about all the atrocities committed in Dafur and Armenia, and Burma among other countries. You are a voice for all survivors of abuse from everywhere and a very good writer. I wish you the best.

  • Paula
    October 5, 2007

    Pierre, I love you for introducing me to the term “shithouse luck.”

    I have faith that there must be someone here picking up on that and seeing how they have no choice but to publish your memoir?

    Susan, you ask the best questions. And develop the best themes. This gives tattoo a whole new meaning and perspective, doesn’t it?
    (and I’ll redo the link that isn’t working after a few cosmetic changes.)

    Thanks to you both.

  • k.e.
    October 6, 2007

    wow! thank you so much for sharing this. pierre,someday you will absolutely be published and your story will reach thousands+ and thousands+ of hearts [including mine]. with love. -k

  • Debbie Ann
    October 7, 2007

    Truly a moving interview. I wish you luck with your important book.

    Thanks for this, Sue!

  • Susan Henderson
    October 7, 2007

    Elizabeth – It’s sad how timely this is, isn’t it? Humans are slow learners.

    Paula – Definitely put you’re link here when you’re ready so we can all check out the cosmetic changes! Nose job? Permanently tattooed eyeliner?

    k.e. – Welcome! And thanks so much for the sweet note.

    Debbie – Great to see you here!

  • Alexander Chee
    October 9, 2007

    This was a really interesting interview.

    I love that you seem so young, Pierre, given everything. It takes a powerful kind of heart to get through all of that and still be so alive. Random or not.

  • Susan Henderson
    October 10, 2007

    Alex, I’m so glad you’re here, and you said what I would have said if I’d thought of it. xo (I owe you a note. I’ll catch up before this evening – that’s the goal anyway.)

  • Jessica Keener
    October 13, 2007

    I just read Pierre’s rivetting, unstoppable memoir. I couldn’t put it down. I started reading it online, then had to print out the pages so I could read it faster and take it with me when I couldn’t sit at home with it. Ironically, I read it standing up at a paintball place while my son got his gear ready and more oddly, while paintball guns were spattering and popping nearby in the woods. A super smart and lucky editor will publish this story and readers will consume it. As a Jew, I appreciated Pierre’s non-Jewish, French, political prisonal perspective of the death camps. The stories and events he recounts, the personal struggles, the people he brings back to life will stick with you forever. Fabulous writing. Heartbreaking and heart-full. Jessica

  • Susan Henderson
    October 13, 2007

    Jessica – You rock!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you for reading Pierre’s memoir and for the public endorsement. I feel like I should run your credentials so any agents, editors, or publishers peeking in realize what a substantial endorsement this is.

    So here we go:

    Jessica Keener is a fiction editor at Agni magazine and a feature writer for The Boston Globe Magazine and other national publications including O, the Oprah Magazine, Coastal Living, and Poets & Writers. She is the recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant in Fiction and has been listed in The Pushcart Prize under ‘100 Outstanding Writers’. She co-hosts Backstory with MJ Rose. She also blogs at Huffington Post and is the co-author of TIME TO MAKE THE DONUTS.

  • brad brock
    October 15, 2007

    Having met Pierre numerous times while he worked with my brother Brian on this memoir, it is so encouraging to know that people are hearing Pierre’s very important story. It is so very enriching that Pierre is among to share his view of the world today.

  • Susan Henderson
    October 16, 2007

    Brad – I agree! And thank you for stopping by.

  • Duff Brenna
    October 22, 2007

    Pierre, I read your interview and am deeply moved and would like to help get your memoir published if I can. There are a couple of independent publishers I can recommend, plus I might be able to get an excerpt or two published in PERIGEE, where I am the fiction editor.

  • Duff Brenna
    October 22, 2007

    Pierre, There are a couple of independent publishers I can recommend, plus I might be able to get an excerpt or two published in PERIGEE.

  • Susan Henderson
    October 22, 2007

    Duff – What a pleasure to have you here, and I’m so touched by you and all the others who have reached out to Pierre. I’ll drop him a note so he sees your post.

    P.S. For those who don’t know Duff Brenna’s work, here’s a snapshot:

    Brenna is a freelance writer and Professor Emeritus of English literature and creative writing at California State University, San Marcos. He is the author of six published novels. His books have been translated into Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Hebrew, and Japanese. (Brenna’s books are listed below by order of publication.)


    The Book of Mamie, winner of the prestigious AWP The Association of Writers & Writing Programs Award for Best Novel

    The Holy Book of the Beard, called “an underground classic” by The New York Times

    Too Cool, a NY Times Noteworthy Book

    The Altar of the Body, winner of a San Diego Writers Prize in 2002, and the Editors Prize Favorite Book of the Year awarded by the South Florida Sun Sentinel

    The Willow Man, called “another work of indelible genius” by Irish Edition

    The Law of Falling Bodies, called “a bravura performance by one of America’s best talents” by Michael Lee, Literary Editor of The Cape Cod Voice and a member of the National Book Critics Circle

    Two of Brenna’s novels, The Book of Mamie and Too Cool, have been optioned by Jimmy Kaufman, a Canadian producer and film director. Brenna wrote the screenplay for The Book of Mamie, which Kaufman calls one of the finest scripts he’s ever read.

  • Joan Swartz
    November 15, 2007

    I really enjoyed reading your interview and I hung on every word! What a privilege to get to read your story! I look forward to your book and once I start, I know I won’t be able to put it down.

    With Love, Joan

  • rachel
    December 5, 2007

    As i sit here on a free at my college in Durham, North East England. I happened to stumble across Pierre’s accounting and couldnt help realiseing how postiive and kind he comes across. I only happened to come across this, as i am studying the subject of ‘Growth and Decay’ in my textiles class, thus leading me onto concetration camps which i have focussed on. Pierre sounds like an amazingly brave man, as well as being modest and humble, as he realises how lucky he was, to survive Auschwitz. I truly admmire him. all the best, rachel

  • Michael Greenfield
    January 3, 2008

    I see I’m a little late to this party, but I could not leave without thanking Pierre for sharing his story and to Susan Henderson for bringing it to this audience.

    As it happens, Pierre’s “girlfriend of 35 years” is my beloved aunt Adele (herself, incidentally, a remarkable person as well); seeing them together is a real blessing and example of a truly loving relationship.

    I’m off to your Myspace page now, Pierre. I’m so happy I found this site (the link was sent to me by my sister, Shira) and am looking forward to reading more of your story.

    Hoping to see you again soon,


  • Gaye
    September 12, 2010

    I have just read your book “Scheisshaus Luck”. I couldn’t put it down – it was so fascinating. I’m thankful that your “memoirs” finally got published after all these years.

  • Peter Cahn
    November 6, 2010

    Hi Pierre, This is your cousin from Melbourne . I am so proud of you and the way you wrote the story. As you know I always enjoy catching up with you when we are in LA. Hopefully we will catch up again sometime soon. Warm Regards,
    Peter , Debbie , Clinton , Ricky and Samantha

  • Kelly Hert
    March 21, 2011

    I just finished reading Scheisshaus Luck. What an amazing book. I have read other books from Auschwitz survivers but what i loved about this book was we got the before, the during and the after. What i mean is we got know a little about you before you were sent to Auchwitz, then we learned about what you had to go through during your stay at Auchwitz and then we learned what you had to go through after Auchwitz. I would just like to say that i am very happy you survived. I am very happy you decided to tell your story. I believe that to forget history is to repeat history and your book helps us to remember. Always remember, never forget. I would also like to say that i am very, very sorry about Stella. You can really tell from your book how muched she meant to you. Again, thank you for your book and i am very happy you survived.

Susan Henderson