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.