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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:           GEORGE STERN

INTERVIEWERS:    SANDRA BERMAN

                                 RUTH EINSTEIN

LOCATION:             ATLANTA, GEORGIA

DATE:                      APRIL 6, 2007

Transcript (PDF)

BIOGRAPHY

George Stern was born in Brussels, Belgium on February 16, 1937 to Blanche and Albert Stern. When the Germans invaded Belgium in May 1940, his parents and grandparents decided to flee Brussels and headed towards southern France. There, George, his mother and grandmother were interred in the Gurs concentration camp, while his father and Grandfather were interred elsewhere. After a few months, they were all released and reunited. His grandparents returned to Belgium, where they survived the war in hiding.

George and his parents travelled to a small town on the border of Spain. After about a month, they were able to cross the border and settled in Madrid, Spain. After another six months, they were able to cross into Portugal and sailed to Havana, Cuba. After a few months in Cuba, George’s family was able to immigrate to the United States in June 1941. They settled in Nashville, Tennessee, near George’s mother’s extended family.

George attended school in Nashville and graduated in 1955. As a teen, he was active in various youth organizations, including Young Judeae and the Zionist youth movement. He also developed a love of camping. He obtained his BA degree in 1959 and his Juris Doctorate in 1961 from Vanderbilt Law School. In 1961, George became the Southern Director of Young Judaea and the Director of Camp Judaea which required he and Eva to move to Atlanta, GA. He was co-founder of the present location of Camp Judaea in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Two years later, he decided to begin his law career. George practiced law in Atlanta for 50 years, specializing in family law in the practice he founded, Stern and Edlin. 

Throughout his life, George was very active in the Jewish community. He chaired numerous committees and served as President at the Marcus Jewish Community Center from 1981-83. He was a founding member of the Temple Sinai congregation, where he served on the board and as Vice President. He also served on the board and as a Vice President of The Amit Program. In addition, George served on the Board of the Breman Jewish Heritage and Holocaust Museum, where was also enjoyed serving as a speaker for student groups.

In 1960, George married Eva Prager, another German Jewish Holocaust survivor. George and Eva had three children and six grandchildren. Eva passed away from cancer in 2000. In 2006, George remarried Margie Okun. George died in Atlanta on July 2, 2014.

Scope of Interview:

George introduces his family and their life in Belgium until the Germans invaded. He details his family’s thirteen-month journey through Europe and Cuba until he and his family arrived in Nashville, Tennessee. He recounts his grandparents’ experience during World War II. George shares his memories and impressions of growing up in Nashville during the 1940s and 1950s. He recalls his interests throughout school and his lifelong love of camping. George talks about his career as an attorney in Atlanta, founding a new synagogue, and his involvement in the Jewish Community Center. George shares how he met his wife and her experience during World War II. He discusses the role of the Holocaust in his life. George remembers his experiences with local Rabbis and youth groups and camps. The interview closes with George talking about his mother.

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