Survivors' Stories

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”
Elie Wiesel

Benjamin Lesser (Leser)

  • From: Poland (Krakow)
  • Liberated from: Germany (Dachau)
  • Deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau from: Hungary (Munkach)
  • Current Location: USA (Nevada- Las Vegas)
  • Year of birth: 1928

Brief Bio

A listing of important dates in Ben’s life, from birth to his life today in Las Vegas.

  • 1928 October – Ben Lesser born in Krakow, Poland
  • 1939 -1940– Nazis invade Poland; 11 year old Ben’s world changes forever
  • 1941 March – Ben and family leave Krakow for Niepolomice.
  • 1942 – Leser family escapes to Bochnia in the middle of the night.
  • 1943 November – Ben and brother Tuli transported to border in bottom of coal truck, meet Uncle Baruch at bottom of the forest ravine, reunited with Lola and Mechel in Budapest; reunited with Munkacs family
  • 1944 May – Ben and entire family are forced to leave their homes and crowded into cattle cars for deportation to Nazi German Concentration and Extermination Camp Auschwitz Birkenau.
  • 1944 June – Ben is sent to the Durnhau Labor Camp.
  • 1945 February – March – Ben and Cousin Isaac survive Death March to Buchenwald, then Death Train to Dachau. 
  • 1945 April – They are liberated at Dachau. Isaac dies in Ben’s arms. Ben loses consciousness, waking up four months later in St. Ottilien Hospital in Germany. Joins young Zionist group moves to Feldafing, Germany. 
  • 1945 December – Reunites with Lola and Mechel.
  • 1946 January – Ben’s nephew Heshi is born.
  • 1946 March – Ben moves into apartment in Munich, Germany with Lola, Mechel and Heshi.
  • 1947 September 21 – Ben arrives in the USA via the SS Ernie Pyle. Moves into Brooklyn, NY apartment with Lola, Mechel and Heshi; attends night school and peddles hosiery on Delancey Street. 
  • 1949 – Ben takes a bus from New York to Los Angeles.
  • 1950 June 17 – Ben and Jean Singer marry in Los Angeles.
  • 1952 May – Ben and Jean’s daughter, Sherry is born.
  • 1953 – Ben becomes a U.S. citizen.
  • 1957 September – Ben and Jean’s daughter, Gail is born.
  • 1973 – July – Ben and Jean’s Granddaughter, Robyn is born.
  • 1978 – Ben Lesser & Associates established in Los Angeles.
  • 1982 – December – Ben and Jean’s, Granddaughter, Jenica is born.
  • 1984 May – Ben and Jean’s Grandson, Adam is born.
  • 1987 May – Ben and Jean’s Granddaugher, Cindy is born.
  • 1995 – Ben speaks about the Holocaust for the first time at Grandson Adam’s school. 
  • 1995 – Ben and Jean retire and move to Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • 1996 – Ben and Jean visit Ben’s parents’ Memorial in the Bochnia, Poland Jewish Cemetery. 
  • 2006 – Ben visit his parents’ Memorial in Bochnia, Poland with his family. 
  • 2009 – Ben founds the ZACHOR Holocaust Remembrance Foundation; Ben speaks at the Tennessee State University Holocaust Education Conference.
  • 2010 March – Ben participates in the 2010 March of the Living at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Ben and 200 other participants visit his parents’ Memorial in Bochnia Jewish Cemetery.
  • 2010 June – Ben and Jean celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary with their family and friends in Las Vegas.
  • 2010 October – Ben celebrates his 83rd Birthday by being an honored guest speaker at the Tennessee State University Holocaust Education Conference; Ben establishes “Papa Ben’s Kitchen.”
  • 2010 November – Lesser Family celebrates wedding of Granddaughter Robyn Kramer to Chad Weber.
  • 2011 – Ben’s book “Living a Life that Matters: from Nazi Nightmare to American Dream” is published. 
  • 2012 May – Ben’s Great-Grandchild, Joshua Naphtali (after his baby brother) is born.
  • 2012 June – Ben’s Grandson, Adam Gerber marries Abby Lane
  • 2014 January – Remembrance Publishing established
  • 2014 May – Ben’s Audio book of “Living a Life that Matters” released.
  • 2015 February – Ben co-talked on Ask Me Anything online with Rainer Hoss. 
  • 2015 March – Ben was on the Ask Me Anything online solo. 
  • 2015 April – Ben participated in the 70th Liberation Anniversary in Dachau
  • 2015 May – Ben was featured on Huffington Post Live in New York.
  • 2015 July – Ben’s 2nd Great-Grandchild, Ethan Isaachor (after his cousin Isaac) is born. 
  • 2015 September – Ben establishes, encouraging others to speak out against intolerance, racism and bullying. 
  • 2015 – Ben meets, develops a friendship with a common mission for peace with Rainer Hoss, the grandson of Auschwitz Commandant Rudolf Hoss.
  • 2015 – Ben is featured in the History Channel Germany documentary, The Liberators: Why We Fought.
  • 2016 January – Ben was the first to film on the REDDIT AMA Original series in New York. 
  • 2016 February – Ben participated in the Nazi War Crime Trial in Germany.
  • 2016 August – Ben’s 3rd great-grand daughter, Zoe Lane Gerber was born
  • 2017 June – Ben’s granddaughter, Jenica Gerber marries Jason Visenberg
  • 2018 October – Ben celebrates his 90th birthday
  • 2018 August – Ben’s granddaughter, Cindy Kramer marries Lou Montalbano
  • 2018 – Ben is featured on Ann Curry’s PBS Show “We’ll Meet Again”
  • 2018 June – Ben travels to Germany to speak at Anti-Semitism event with BMG Music.
  • 2019 – May – Ben gets an honorary doctorate from Touro University of Nevada
  • 2019 – Ben’s book “Living a Life that Matters: From Nazi Nightmare to American Dream” is published in France.
  • 2019 November – GoFundMe recognized ZACHOR / Ben Lesser. He was asked to be keynote at first ever live steam gala Hero celebration.
  • 2020 – Ben launches his Teacher / Student Online Curriculum. 

Who will be accompanying you on this journey? 

My daughter, Gail Lesser-Gerber. She is the director of our Zachor Holocaust Remembrance Foundation.