In Memoriam: Zenon Neumark

Wed, 03/29/2023 - 4:00pm

The USC Dornsife Center for Advanced Genocide Research mourns the death of Holocaust survivor Zenon Neumark, who was a close friend of the Center and passed away on March 27, 2023 at the age of 98 years old.

Born in Lodz, Poland in 1924, Neumark left home at the beginning of World War II at just 15 years old. At the age of 16, he escaped the Lodz ghetto by jumping over the fence at the perfect moment, and he continued escaping from camps throughout the war. Living and working in Warsaw with false identity papers that listed him as a Roman Catholic electrician with a different last name, Neumark joined numerous resistance groups and saved other Jews by getting them sent to a different branch of the company where he worked. Arrested during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, Neumark was sent to a labor camp in Vienna. He escaped from this camp as well, but, finding food and shelter difficult to acquire on the streets of Vienna, he sneaked back into the camp. He was liberated by the Soviet army. 

After the war, he pursued his education, which had been interrupted by the war. He studied engineering at the Polytechnic University of Milan. Later he came to the United States, first to Chicago and then to University of Oklahoma to continue his studies. After earning his Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering, he moved to Los Angeles and after obtaining citizenship, he started to work for Hughes Aircraft Company where he stayed for 34 years. He earned a Master's degree in Physics at University of California, Los Angeles, and later worked on engineering inventions. 

Upon his retirement, he wrote his memoir entitled Hiding In The Open: A Young Fugitive in Nazi-Occupied Poland. Center Founding Director Wolf Gruner frequently invited Neumark to his classes to share his remarkable story with students, which turned often into the highlight of their semester. During Covid, he even mastered Zoom visits in USC seminars. Neumark shared his story in many other forms as well – in public lectures and in a testimony recorded by the USC Shoah Foundation in 1995. In 2016, via the USC Shoah Foundation, Neumark donated two postcards to the USC Libraries Special Collections. 

“Zenon was a remarkable man, humble and charming, always believing in the good of people despite his traumatic experiences during the Holocaust. While he would sometimes explain he survived because of luck, his story clearly demonstrates how he proactively searched for ways to escape and resist as well as to better the situation of others,” Center Founding Director Wolf Gruner said. “We will dearly miss him.”

The Center offers our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and everyone touched by his life.

Read an article about one of his visits to the Center here.

Read more about his book here.

Watch a clip of Zenon Neumark's testimony here.

Read an obituary of Zenon Neumark here.

Photo of Zenon Neumark courtesy of Remember the Holocaust. Read their profile of Zenon Neumark here.