BERKELEY, California — A 95-year-old Holocaust survivor’s choice of roommate is making headlines. Not because she is 64 years his junior; rather it is because of his willingness to welcome the granddaughter of unrepentant Nazis.
They are an odd couple indeed. Ben Stern withstood two ghettos, nine concentration camps, selection by the notorious Nazi physician Josef Mengele, two death marches, and the historic conflict in Skokie, Illinois. German-born Lea Heitfeld, 31, is a graduate student in Jewish Studies.
“I told myself I cannot take it out on her because her grandparents were Nazis,” Stern says, chatting via a Bluetooth-enabled system to enhance his hearing. “A girl like that, a lady, should not have to pay the price for her grandparents.”
During World War II, the Nazis killed Stern’s parents as well as seven brothers and one sister. Stern’s arm is tattooed both with the number “129592” as well …