Holocaust Survivor Brings Story of Survival to W&J

WASHINGTON, PA (April 11, 2013)—More than seven decades after hiding from the Nazis in a basement during World War II, Shulamit Bastacky will share her story at a public lecture Monday, April 15, at 6:30 p.m. in Washington & Jefferson College’s ( Olin Fine Arts Center. 

The Hillel Society at W&J organized the event in honor of W&J’s annual recognition of Holocaust Remembrance Day April 7.         

Bastacky, a Pittsburgh resident, was born Aug. 25, 1941, in a city now known as Vilnius, Lithuania. For three years, she was hidden from the Nazis by a Catholic nun who helped save her life.            

Over the years, she has spoken to thousands of people about her experience, emphasizing how one person can make a difference. Because she was in hiding, Bastacky did not have a normal childhood. There were no toys and she never had a teddy bear. Bastacky asks people to give her teddy bears, which she in turn gives to sick children, women's shelters, hospital patients, senior citizens anyone in need of the comfort she did not get as a baby. W&J is asking those who attend the event to donate a teddy bear.        

“Ms. Bastacky is a different type of speaker on the Holocaust. She offers a perspective to our campus that we have not heard before,” said Zoe Levenson, W&J student and president of The Hillel Society. “Clearly, the big thing is that we can never forget the tragic event and learn from it. We have to learn tolerance and treat people with respect and listen to people on the other side of the discussion.”          

After the war, Bastacky was reunited with her family—her mother, father and an older brother.            

After the war, her family lived in Lodz, Poland. At 17, Bastacky moved to Israel, where she served in the army for five years. From Israel, she immigrated to the United States, where the rest of her family had settled. In December 1963, she arrived in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh where she lives today.