Peter Stein was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia to a Catholic mother and a Jewish father two years before the German occupation of Czechoslovakia. In March 1939 the German Army occupied the country and began harassing Jews. His father and eight members of his father’s family were arrested, sent to Terezin (Theresienstadt) and eventually sent to Auschwitz — all except his father were murdered.

Peter went to school where photos of Hitler and the Nazi flag appeared in every classroom. German soldiers were everywhere during his childhood—on the street, in shops and cafes, even in his school where the principal hid two downed allied pilots. During the war Peter took a street car to his school in downtown Prague, sometimes encountering German soldiers. He and his mother experienced food shortages, several allied air attacks and general chaos.  His Jewish grandparents disappeared from his life but, fortunately, his Catholic grandparents provided much economic and emotional support.

Stein was 12 years old when he arrived in New York City in 1948 on the day Harry Truman beat Thomas Dewey for the Presidency. He attended public schools, started to learn English, tried to master the American games of baseball and football and became Americanized. He graduated from the City College of New York and then attended Princeton University earning his Ph. D. in sociology in 1969. 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. He received several awards for his undergraduate and graduate teaching.

Stein is the author of 10 books and a number of articles on various topics— introduction to sociology; single life; marriage; diversity in families; sports; aging; retirement; and social gerontology.

He is currently writing a memoir titled Fragments from a Boyhood about his experiences under Nazism, communism, and now, democracy.


In his informative and lively power-point presentation Peter Stein speaks about his family and their experiences during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. He explores the larger historical context of WWII, antisemitism and the Holocaust. Peter introduces relatives who were sent to Terezin, a ghetto and concentration camp, and then to Auschwitz to their deaths. Peter’s father was ordered to do “forced labor” then sent to Terezin which he miraculously survived. Because Peter’s mother was married to a Jew she was forced to work in a Nazi factory during the war.

Peter speaks about surviving the traumatic and fearful years of the German occupation. Peter has shared his story with middle school, high school, college students and adults for many years and he has received accolades for his presentations. He enjoys teaching and exploring the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides with his audiences.

Peter’s presentation presents the best of both worlds for an audience expecting to hear about the holocaust…his unique personal/family stories concerning the events surrounding the Holocaust and the intellectual knowledge on how it all ties together in the grand scheme of history. Taking into account Peter’s friendly demeanor, sense of humor, and his genuine concern of human history not repeating himself, he is sure to impress, enlighten, and impact his audiences lives through his presentation.

Dan PuccioAssociate Director Student Affairs, Penn State/York