Sigmund Strochlitz, a Holocaust survivor and internationally recognized peace advocate, died October 16 at the age of 89 in New London, Conn.
Born in Bedzin, Poland, Strochlitz studied economics at the University of Krakow until the outbreak of war in 1939; although he survived Auschwitz, he lost his entire family. Strochlitz moved to America in 1951 and worked in the exports business before becoming the owner and president of a successful Ford car dealership.
He and his late wife, Rose, were active members of Congregation Beth El in New London, where he was a past president. He was also a supporter of the University of Connecticut, where he established an endowment to support education travel grants.
Strochlitz’s lifelong passion was his Holocaust remembrance work. He crossed the globe with his close friend, Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, to raise awareness of the Holocaust.
“He was extremely sensitive to memory and remembrance. When the president appointed me to the [United States Holocaust Memorial Museum] commission in 1978, he immediately became my right-hand man,” Wiesel said in remarks to the Connecticut newspaper The Day. “He was instrumental in all of our accomplishments.”
Strochlitz was a leading member of numerous national Holocaust remembrance organizations, including the USHMM, the United States Holocaust Commission and the Holocaust Memorial Council. He served as vice president of the Rose and Sigmund Strochlitz Holocaust Resource Center of the Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut, was co-chairman of the National Campaign to Remember and chairman of the National Committee Responsible for Annual Holocaust Commemoration Ceremonies at the White House.
Awarded the Elie Wiesel Remembrance Award in 1986, the National Holocaust Remembrance Tribute in 1986 and the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 1997, Strochlitz was also appointed by French President François Mitterand to be a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters of the French Republic. Connecticut College and Bar-Ilan University both awarded Strochlitz honorary doctorates.
He is survived by four children, 14 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren in the United States and Israel.