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Fireman, Samuel Lee (Szlama Fajerman), 1914-2012



Obituary published in Intermoutain Jewish News, January 3, 2013:

Samuel Lee Fireman, a Holocaust survivor, passed away Dec. 21, 2012, in Denver. Rabbi Bruce Dollin and Cantor Martin Goldstein officiated at the Dec. 24 service held at the HEA. Interment followed at Rose Hill Cemetery. Feldman Mortuary made the arrangements.

“A survivor of the Holocaust, Sam inspired all who knew him because of his optimism, energy, generosity and complete joy in living,” the family said.

Mr. Fireman was born Aug. 20, 1914, in Zjarke, Poland. He served in the Polish Cavalry from 1938 to 1939.

He married Helen Weizman on March 28, 1940.

Mr. Fireman and his wife were sent to a slave labor camp in Pionki, Poland, where they remained from 1940 to 1944.

In 1944, Mr. Fireman was deported to Auschwitz-–Birkenau, and Mrs. Fireman was deported to Bergen-Belsen.

The day before the inmate uprising at Auschwitz, Mr. Fireman ran into his youngest brother Aaron, a member of the underground.

Aaron told him that the inmates assigned to work at Crematorium IV found out the Nazis planned to murder them. In reponse, they devised a plan to destroy the crematorium.

Aaron told Sam to stay alive and “tell the world what happened here.”

Mr. Fireman escaped on a train headed for Landsberg, a camp in Germany.

On Oct. 7, 1944, Aaron and his fellow inmates blew up Crematorium IV. The Nazis quickly crushed the revolt. Aaron was killed, along with most of the others inmates.

In April, 1945, Mr. Fireman was forced to go on a death march to Dachau. He fell asleep in a ditch one night, expecting to be shot. The next day he was liberated.

He was sent to a DP camp in Stuttgart, Germany, where he was reunited with his wife Helen. With the exception of one sister, Mr. Fireman’s entire family perished, but Helen had no idea about her family’s fate.

When he met a man who was returning to Pionki, Poland, Mr. Fireman wrote a note explaining Helen’s whereabouts. The man put it up at the Pionki train station.

Her mother, sister and grandmother read the note and came to Stuttgart in May, 1945.

The couple arrived in Denver in 1949.

A small business owner, Mr. Fireman retired in 1988.

Helen passed away on April 19, 2001.

Mr. Fireman is survived by his son Hal Fireman and daughter Lilly Fireman (Bruce) Marks; and grandchildren Lara Marks (Todd) Baker, Deborah Marks (Bradd) Williams, Elizabeth Fireman and Lucas Fireman, all of Denver.

Contributions may be made to DU’s Holocaust Awareness Institute or the HEA.

Copyright © 2013 by the Intermountain Jewish News


Eulogy published in Intermoutain Jewish News, January 10, 2013:

So gentle, so understated, so quietly outreaching, so unruffled, so kind. Who could ever guess that the late Sam Fireman lived through every imaginable hell during the Holocaust? Slave labor camp. Auschwitz-Birkenau. His entire family killed (save one sister). Escape from Auschwitz by sneaking on a train to Landsberg the day before the inmate uprising. Death march to Dachau. “One night he fell asleep in a ditch, expecting to be shot,” his family told the IJN. “The next day he was liberated.”

Yet, no rage, no revenge, crossed Fireman’s face. Indeed so, for it was his very character, his sterling qualities, that helped him survive in the first place. We may add to the skeletal account above a story that Fireman related to the State Legislature less than two years ago, in May, 2011. As reported in the IJN at the time:

“In 1940, a gentile client of his, Mr. Kramer, was unable to make the necessary payments for his purchase [of a guitar] due to the bad economy. In an act of grace that would later be crucial to his survival, Fireman excused Kramer from his payments until it was possible for him to pay.

“Shortly thereafter, Fireman was loaded onto a train headed to Cracow. As they approached, Fireman made a fleeting decision to jump the train and head back home. He found his life literally turned upside down, as he discovered his parents’ home in ruins.

“He was ordered to report to German headquarters and was mercilessly beaten until he heard a voice yelling at the SS officer. The voice was none other than Mr. Kramer’s, who had not forgotten the kindness showed to him by Fireman.

“Kramer made sure Fireman had a good job and plenty of food, but could not protect him when the Lodz Ghetto was liquidated in 1944.”

Did you ever look into Sam Fireman’s eyes? Those eyes looked into those of Dr. Josef Mengele’s “patients,” whom Fireman transported, dead and tortured, to the crematorium.

Sam Fireman was born in 1914. He was 98. He was one of the last of the Holocaust survivors. His passing comes close to closing an era. Beware! It is now up to the rest of us to keep the memories of the Holocaust alive.

Copyright © 2013 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

Sam and Helen Fireman, 1997 April

Identifier: B424.01.0001.0004

File contains 8 x 10 photograph, slides, proofs, photo release and biographical information.

Dates: 1997 April

Sam and Helen Fireman Portrait, 1997 April

Identifier: B424.02.0003.00001
Scope and Contents From the Collection: The Sharon Berkowitz Portrait Collection consists of materials related to the donor and photographer's portraiture project on Holocaust survivors in Denver. Included in the collection are seventeen large scale mounted photographic prints used for exhibition at the Denver City and County Building in May 1997 and accompanying labels. The original negatives and prints from the portrait sessions are also contained in the archive as well as miscellaneous documents relating to the portraiture...
Dates: 1997 April

Sharon Berkowitz Portrait Collection

 Collection — Object B424.02.0006: [Barcode: U186023257692]
Identifier: B424

Sharon Berkowitz took photographs of Holocaust survivors in Denver and created a photographic exhibit for the City and County of Denver. The exhibit was entitled "Show me, I remember: Denver and the Holocaust." The collection contains exhibition panels, photographs, negatives and documents relating to the photographic exhibit

Dates: 1995-1999