He Carried The Grief Of The Holocaust For Years. Then A Young German Moved Into His Home

Lea Heitfeld and Ben Stern in a public Facebook post.

Lea Heitfeld and Ben Stern in a public Facebook post.

He Carried The Grief Of The Holocaust For Years. Then A Young German Moved Into His Home


Like so many others, Ben Stern lost everything in the Holocaust. He lived in the Warsaw ghetto and survived nine concentration camps. His mother, father, seven brothers and a sister did not survive.

“I carry the grief with me 24 hours a day,” said Stern to CBS News. Recently, his wife of 70 years moved to a nursing home, and Stern found himself becoming lonely. He decided to find a roommate, and 31-year-old Lea Heitfeld moved in.

If there age difference makes them an odd pair, their backgrounds is even more unusual. Lea Heitfeld is German.

“He knew I was a young, German girl,” said Heitfeld. “He sat down, and the first thing he said was, ‘Leah, I want you to know. You’re third generation. You’re not responsible for what happened.”

However, Lea isn’t just German. Her grandparents were active Nazis at the time of the Holocaust. But, Stern told her he did not hold her accountable.

“I’m still a reminder of that time,” said Heitfeld. “That he is capable to welcome me with such warmth is something that inspired me.”

Now, Heitfeld is majoring in Jewish Studies.
After so much heartache and suffering, Stern’s forgiveness is healing the gap between them.



InspirationalHeidi McDow