Sam Saide

he lied to survive

Sam Saide has a survivor’s instinct. How else can you explain the journey that took him from his family home in pre-war Lentza, Poland to Minnesota.

When the Nazis invaded Sam’s hometown he was only 13 years old. All Jews were forced to register with the Reich and wear the yellow star. As an act of defiance, Sam removed his star. But it wasn’t long before neighbors identified Sam as a Jew and he was sent to the Posen concentration camp.

Posen was the first Nazi camp established in occupied Poland. It was a transit, extermination and forced-labor camp. Once there, Sam sensed that if he revealed his true age he would be immediately killed, so he told the guards that he was 19 rather than 13. The Nazis put him to work digging pipelines. “It was winter and cold, -30 degrees, we worked in wooden shoes with torn clothing- no hats or gloves. All my friends froze to death.” From Posen, Sam was sent to work in Auschwitz. His job-carrying bodies from the gas chambers to the crematorium.

Sam eventually found a way out of Auschwitz by claiming to be Lithuanian. But this did not end his suffering. The Nazis transferred him to Warsaw, a city rife with typhus. During the war years he survived so many calamities, “I got shot and I got beaten. There wasn’t a day that I wasn’t beaten.”

After the war Sam made his way to St. Paul with just $7.50 in his pocket. From meager beginnings he built a successful auto parts business that is still operated by his son.

“For four years and three months I prayed to G-d every day, and G-d helped me.”