Joseph Korzenik, Holocaust educator, 85


Joe Korzenik lights a candle at the State Capitol Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony.

Joseph Korzenik, 85, of West Hartford, died Sunday, Jan. 16. Korzenik, a survivor of the Holocaust, dedicated his later years to educating young people about the Holocaust and the dangers of prejudice and hatred.
Born in Southern Poland, Korzenik was the son of the late Zallel and Mindla (Roth) Korzenik. During World War II, he was first incarcerated in his hometown ghetto and later in seven slave labor and concentration camps. At the end of the Holocaust he was liberated by the American army. He arrived in the United States in 1946 and attended Hartford High School and Hillyer College, now known as the University of Hartford. He worked as a corporate legal administrator in real estate, communication and real estate development.
He chaired the annual Holocaust commemoration in the senate chambers of the State Capitol in Hartford. He visited schools throughout New England, New Jersey and New York, lecturing about the experiences he endured as a young man, what he termed the stupidity of hatred, and “Man’s Inhumanity to Man.”
“Joe was a passionate advocate of Holocaust / Genocide education,” said Dr. Joseph A. Olzacki of the Bloomfield Public Schools. “I cannot count how many times he would come into my office at Bloomfield High School and talk about “the kids” and how he was concerned about  the next generation – making sure that they understood the lessons of the past. He would ask, “what if they forget?”, “who will teach them when we are all gone?”
Korzenik was a member of The Young Israel of West Hartford, ADL, Bnai Brith and Ararat Lodge #13. He was the husband of the late Ruth (Spaien) Korzenik. He is survived by two children, Bruce R. Korzenik of Avon, and Michele B. Siegel and her husband, Larry, of Avon; two grandchildren, Jennifer Magalhaes and her husband, Andre, and Andrew Jay Siegel and and his fianceé, Camille Sauer; and a great-grandson, Lucas Magalhaes.
“Someone once said that you are judged by the memories of your actions,” said Dr. Olzacki. “If that is true, Joe Korzenik will go down as a most passionate, caring and loving man who did not let the past define him but rather used his experiences to teach others. He was a true teacher- a true maestro he enlightened those willing to listen and opened doors that had been nailed shut due to ignorance. Thank God his memory lives on. He will be missed.

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