A survivor of the Holocaust who came to Spokane in June was struck and killed Thursday by a car in New York City. He was 91.
Nissan Krakinowski was crossing the street in south Brooklyn about 8 p.m. when a light blue Jaguar struck him. He was sent to a local hospital and died shortly after.
The driver was not arrested, according to the New York Police Department, and the investigation of the accident is ongoing.
Krakinowski survived the horrors of the infamous Dachau concentration camp in Germany, which he detailed in Spokane during a June 4 speech to a crowd of about 900.
“Our goal was to spread his story and his message to as many in the Spokane area as possible,” said Sam Blau, who accompanied Krakinowski to Spokane. “His message to Spokane was about kindness and being nice to people. The epitome of his being was looking at the perspective of other people.”
Spokane was the largest crowd Krakinowski had spoken to, Blau said.
“After that, he was so supercharged,” Blau said. “He was talking about the next places we were going. He was full of life and ready to go.”
After the Spokane speech, Krakinowski got a video of it and watched it every night after that because he felt he inspired many people and he wanted to improve his speeches for the future, Blau said.
“It meant that much to him,” Blau said.
Blau and Krakinowski unofficially adopted each other as father and son, Blau said.
They met in a synagogue 10 years ago when Krakinowski was giving a funeral prayer for his wife. Krakinowski started crying, and Blau’s 11-year-old son approached to comfort him, Blau said.
“My son called me over to help him. From that moment, we created a bond that never broke and only grew and grew.”
At Krakinowski’s funeral, Blau said he told the audience the person who hit Krakinowski shouldn’t feel bad because that’s not what his adopted father would have wanted.
“Nissan looked at everyone else’s situation,” Blau said.
Surviving the Holocaust
Of his 100-plus family members, Krakinowski and his brother were the only two to survive the Holocaust. He was beaten by Nazi guards, lived on moldy bread and carried concrete powder that would painfully stick to his skin when it rained.
Before he was split from his family and sent to Dachau, Krakinowski’s mother gave him one piece of advice: Stay with your brother. If you’re going to die, die together.
They brothers survived the concentration camp. But while it was being evacuated as it was approached by Allied forces, the Nazi guards told them they were planting dynamite to blow it up. Krakinowski’s brother was too weak and sick to evacuate, so they both stayed behind because of their mother’s message, and were ready to die.
Krakinowski said the dynamite was a lie. It never exploded, and because they stayed, they were able to be saved.
“If I wouldn’t have listened to my mother, I would have died,” he said in his June speech.
In 1949, Krakinowski moved to the United States, married and had two daughters. His brother and wife died years ago. He said his daughters died within the past few years, leaving him with no living relatives.
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