Peter Stein was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia to a Catholic mother and a Jewish father two years before the German occupation of Czechoslovakia. His father and eight family members were sent to Terezin (Theresienstadt) and shipped to Auschwitz(Poland) and Maly Trostinets (Belarus) — all were murdered except his father who miraculously survived.
During the war Peter saw German soldiers, Nazi flags, and photos of Hitler everywhere– in school, in shops, on streets and in the movie house. He and his mother experienced food shortages, allied air attacks and constant fear. Peter had a memorable encounter with a Nazi officer on the street tram. His Jewish aunts, uncles and grandparents disappeared but, fortunately, his Catholic grandparents provided emotional and economic support.
Peter was 12 years old when he arrived in the United States. He attended public schools, learned English, tried to master baseball and football and became Americanized. He graduated from the City College of New York and then earned a Ph.D. in sociology at Princeton University. He taught at Rutgers University, CUNY and then Wm. Paterson University in New Jersey where he also served as Director of the Genocide and Holocaust Studies Center. For the last ten years he was a senior researcher at the University of North Carolina’s Institute on Aging. He has received several awards for his undergraduate and graduate teaching.
Peter Stein has recently published A Boy’s Journey: From Nazi-Occupied Prague and Freedom in America. UNC Professor of History Chad Bryant, writes that “Stein has produced a remarkable tale of Nazi occupation, the Holocaust, and emigration that reimagines events from the perspective of a young boy.” Stein is the author of 10 other books and a number of sociological articles— on social inequality; marriage and family life; diversity in families; aging; work and retirement; social gerontology; and sports.