As Holocaust survivor and Holocaust Museum volunteer Nat Shaffir recently summited Mount Kilimanjaro, his father’s words resonated in his mind: “Never give up.” Nat, who will turn 83 in December, is the first known Holocaust survivor to make the summit. This achievement comes one year after he completed his ninth Marine Corps Marathon.
Nat was six years old when his family was forced to leave their farm and move into a single room in the Lasi ghetto in Romania. Nat smuggled himself in and out of the ghetto to collect the meager rations his family was allowed. As a Jewish boy, he was often bullied by other children. “Many times I came home with a bloody nose and messed-up face. But that didn’t hurt as much as when these hooligans took my bread away, which meant for the next two days we didn’t have anything to eat.” Though he was a child, Nat’s responsibilities continued to grow. When he was nine, Nat’s father was deported for forced labor, and Nat was expected to be the man of his family. When his father left, he told Nat, “‘Remember, don’t give up; never give up,’ and that kept me going. I never gave up.” Even today, Nat draws strength from those words, whether he’s running, hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro, or speaking to young people about his Holocaust experience.