Samuel Goetz was an 11-year-old Jewish boy who had just graduated from elementary school when the Nazis invaded his hometown of Tarnow, Poland, in September, 1939. His first contact with a German soldier came two months later, when one held a revolver to his head.
This week, the Los Angeles optometrist was one of 20 Holocaust survivors to meet with Polish President Lech Walesa in Washington.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday March 27, 1991 Home Edition Metro Part B Page 3 Column 6 Metro Desk 2 inches; 40 words Type of Material: Correction
UCLA alumnus--An article published Friday incorrectly stated the alma mater of Samuel Goetz, a Los Angeles optometrist who met last week with Polish President Lech Walesa. Goetz graduated from UCLA, where he was instrumental in establishing an endowed chair in Holocaust studies.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday March 24, 1991 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 3 Metro Desk 1 inches; 49 words Type of Material: Correction
Fought for Poland--An article published Friday stated erroneously that a brother of Samuel Goetz, a Los Angeles optometrist who met last week with Polish President Lech Walesa, had served in the Soviet army during World War II. The brother, in fact, was a member of a Polish army unit.
The half-hour session took place Thursday after the Polish president announced during a news conference at the construction site of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington that he plans to create a governmental task force in Warsaw to examine Polish anti-Semitism.
"We talked about unpleasant things. But I'm glad the conversation was frank," Walesa said, speaking through an interperter.
"I shall do everything I can to resolve anti-Semitism during my term in office."
Goetz's entire family, with the exception of a brother serving in the Soviet army, was deported to the Belzec extermination camp, where they died in 1942. Goetz was sent to the Plaszow-Cracow concentration camp in 1943. Put to work building tunnels, he survived moves to two other concentration camps before being liberated by Gen. George S. Patton's 3rd Army in 1945.
In 1949, Goetz came to the United States, where his father's two brothers and sister had immigrated.
Goetz was instrumental in establishing and endowing a chair in Holocaust studies at his alma mater, USC. He was appointed to the U.S. Holocaust Museum's content committee in 1987.
Goetz married another Holocaust survivor in 1950. They have two children and five grandchildren.
Goetz said he suggested to Walesa that he honor Poles who worked to save Jews during World War II.
"The history," Goetz said, "should be conveyed."