My Name is Staszek Surdel

Joel Poremba


The improbable true story of a nine-year-old Polish boy’s Holocaust survival This biography traces the Holocaust through the eyes of young Nathan Poremba and examines the difficult emotional and physical choices...

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The improbable true story of a nine-year-old Polish boy’s Holocaust survival

This biography traces the Holocaust through the eyes of young Nathan Poremba and examines the difficult emotional and physical choices he had to make to survive. His father was murdered by the Nazis before his hometown went under deportation orders, so he made the heart-wrenching decision to flee his home in Southern Poland (Wieliczka) and leave his mother and sisters behind.

Nathan’s story is one of resistance. He refused to wear the mandated Star of David armband and blended into the local population in order to buy food for the family. He snuck in and out of three ghettos, witnessed Polish complicity in the round-up of Wielickza’s Jews, obtained false papers, and worked incognito on a farm delivering dairy products to German soldiers at a nearby WWI fortress.  He refused to be a victim and resisted his tormentors.

But an altercation with a German soldier sent him to Bergen-Belsen and Płaszów. Nathan’s resolve was repeatedly tested until early 1945 when the Soviet Red Army and Nazis clashed at the farm he hid in.

Alone and without help for most of the Holocaust, Nathan Poremba’s six-year survival necessitated avoiding detection while maintaining an unflinching will to live despite the threats that enveloped his every move. His unmatched resilience is a testament to his will to live.



“A powerful and moving story and a touching testimony to a son’s love for his father.”

– Marilyn Harran, Ph.D., Director at Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education; Stern Chair in Holocaust Education; Professor of Religious Studies and History; Chapman University

“This memoir offers much more than merely tracing the steps of a nine year old Jewish boy through  Nazi-occupied Poland. Joel takes the reader into his father’s mindset and feelings in order to provide insight into the life changing decisions he made while resisting antisemitism before, during and after the war. By analyzing the psychologies taught to him by his parents before they were murdered, Joel shares Nathan’s thought processes and heart wrenching decisions from the survivor’s perspective. By including Nathan’s emotions together with what is a heroic resistance story, Joel has weaved an account of the Holocaust that illustrates the light at the end of history’s darkest tunnel.”

– Rabbi Yisroel Ciner, Beth Jacob Congregation of Irvine 

“A son of a survivor, whose story had been locked away almost his whole life, Joel, with new-found clarity and courage, was determined to open up the past and not only hear his father’s experiences, but declared for all who could hear, that he would write it down and share them with the world.”

Lori Palatnik, founding director, Momentum 

“Compelling and inspiring, the Holocaust story of a nine year old Jewish boy’s resilience gives meaning to life even when life is revealed in its most cruel state. Unwilling to succumb to Nazi and Polish persecution, Nathan’s instinct to turn misfortune into opportunity, to know when to run and when to stay and adapt, serves as an example to us all. Enduring the unbearable and facing the Holocaust without his family, Nathan’s triumph of spirt showcases the will to live even when his tomorrow was unpromised.”

– Saul Blinkoff, Hollywood producer (former Disney animator/director, producer at DreamWorks Animation and at Netflix); motivational speaker; podcast host of “Life of AWESOME!” 

“There is a great significance attributed to the painful undertaking that comes with sharing the Holocaust survivor’s story. We honor our parents of the Shoah and remember those murdered by the Nazis by doing what we can to prevent future genocide. This is a story of one boy’s defiance of evil that ran parallel to his indescribable will to live in spite of that evil. With sensitivity and compassion, yet while delivering his father’s story in a forthright manner, Joel has taken up his sacred obligation and looked to educate future generations about the evils of hate.”

Irving M. Chase, Second Generation Holocaust survivor


by Joel Poremba
Page Count: 173
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Publish Date: July 16, 2021
Imprint: Sunbury Press
Genre: History


HISTORY / Holocaust

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Spell Binding

An incredible story of young courage to survive the Holocaust. It should be mandatory reading for high school students.

Well written and compelling.

Unbelievable story

Powerful and compelling, so well written!! What an amazing tribute to a Holocaust survivor. Highly recommend.