Simon Konover's life changed forever in 1939 when German soldiers arrived in his hometown in Poland ...
Just 16 years old, he was taken to a labor camp. After surviving a daring escape, he found refuge with relatives, including his brother, Harold.
Working odd jobs and living in constant fear of the German army, Simon and Harold wound up in Stalingrad. After being drafted into the Soviet army and driving trucks, Simon was charged with disobeying orders and sentenced to three years of hard labor in Siberia. The harsh punishment ended up saving Simon's life, as his former convoy was destroyed by German fighter planes.
"If you would have told me I'd have a normal life with children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, I would have said you must be out of your mind." -Simon Konover
When the war eneded, Simon and Harold learned their older brother, David, had immigrated to the United States, but the rest of the family was gone, killed along with 6,000 other Jews from their hometown.
With virtually no money, Simon traveled to the U.S. and began working at his brother David's flooring company. In the decades that followed, he built one of the most successful development companies in the Southeast, encompassing hotels, office buildings, apartments and more than 100 shopping centers.
Simon also is a founder of the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and a recipient of numerous awards, including the Prime Minister's New Life Award from the National Committee for Israel Bonds. The Konovers are founding supporters of the University of Connecticut Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, endowing the center's first faculty chair with a $1.5 million gift.
Now 87, Simon continues to work and travel extensively. His wife Doris, an avid bridge player, is busy with her family, friends and travels. Together, the Konover's have built a "normal life", which by any measure is quite remarkable.
Harbor's Edge -- Florida (Spring 2010 Issue)