Sam Pivnik was a survivor from a world that no longer exists. He was born in 1926 in Bendzin, Poland, and lived happily in a community where Jews and gentiles lived peacefully side by side. Sam was an active, boisterous boy, who in 1939 was barely aware of the imminent threat posed by Nazi Germany.
Over the course of the war, Sam was incarcerated in a number of concentration and extermination camps in Poland and Germany. Consequently, he had a unique view of the Holocaust, and he is believed to be the last remaining Jewish survivor to have worked on the ramp at Auschwitz. At the end of the war, Sam was one of the detainees on the prison ship Cap Arcona, which was bombed and sunk by the RAF, in an incident which remains a source of controversy.
After the war, Sam played an important role in the foundation of the state of Israel. During the War Of Independence, he fought in the 79th Brigade alongside Jews and gentiles, including former British soldiers who sympathised with the Jewish cause. Eventually, he came to live in London, where he worked initially as a tailor, before becoming a respected art dealer and restorer. He died in August 2017.