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My Interview with Holocaust survivor Dr. Robert Fisch

October 6, 2008
robert-fisch

Dr. Robert Fisch


From the moment I first read about Dr. Robert Fisch, I felt drawn to him and wanted to meet him. Dr. Fisch, a native of Hungary, miraculously survived eleven months in Nazi work camps and the Gunskirchen concentration camp in the German forest.

After World War II ended, he completed medical school in Hungary, then came to America in 1957. He eventually became a University of Minnesota professor of pediatrics and an international expert on the metabolic disease PKU (phenylketonuria).

Dr. Fisch’s first book, Light from the Yellow Star: A Lesson of Love from the Holocaust, is illustrated with one of his paintings and introduced by one of the biblical quotes carved on the walls of the Memorial of the Hungarian Jewish Martyrs in Budapest, Hungary. 

Now retired, Dr. Fisch lives in a Minneapolis condo, where he graciously welcomed me and told me his story, which I arranged to have published in the February 2008 issue of The Jewish Magazine, an online journal.



ROBERT O. FISCH, M.D.

Fisch, a retired University of Minnesota professor of pediatrics and an international expert on the metabolic disease PKU (phenylketonuria), survived the two most oppressive totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century. A Holocaust survivor, he has been knighted in Hungary for his role in the 1956 revolution against communism. Fisch is also an accomplished artist. Each segment of his first book, “Light from the Yellow Star: A Lesson of Love from the Holocaust,” is illustrated with one of his paintings and introduced by one of the biblical quotes carved on the walls of the Jewish Memorial Cemetery for the Martyrs in Budapest, Hungary. The book is distributed at no cost to interested schools through the Yellow Star Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping educate young people about the Holocaust. Fisch’s subsequent books include, “The Metamorphosis to Freedom,” and “Dear Dr. Fisch: Children’s Letters to a Holocaust Survivor.” For more information, visit yellowstarfoundation.org.

My childhood in Budapest was very happy. My parents worked very hard. I had nice clothes, good food, many friends, and much love. A devout Catholic nurse named Anna Tatrai lived with us and helped raise me. I was taught to respect others’ beliefs and ways of life. I attended Friday service in the synagogue and also Sunday Mass. Just as bridges over the Danube River connect the two parts of my city, Buda and Pest, so it was in my home. Different religions were linked by love and understanding.

On March 19, 1944, nine months after I graduated high school, the Nazis invaded and occupied Hungary because the Hungarian government, which was on the side of Germany, tried to make a separate peace. From that point on, every Hungarian Jew had to (more…)