Dr. Robert O. Fisch, a retired University of Minnesota pediatrician, award-winning author, artist and Shoah survivor, has penned a new book of inspirational stories titled Fisch Stories: Reflections on Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. The book is a collection of more than 60 vignettes about Fisch’s childhood in Hungary, his experience during the Holocaust and his medical career in Minneapolis.
“I have been a Jew during Fascism, a bourgeois under Communism, a rebel defeated in an uprising, a refugee among the free, and a have-not amid plenty,” Fisch writes in the book’s introduction. “The stories in this book are short and long, historical and philosophical, funny and solemn, humane and barbaric, realistic and sentimental. Yet each story portrays the presence or absence of my six guiding principles.”
Fisch says the six values that guide his life are: the value of compassion, the value of equal treatment, the value of children, the value of humor, the value of suffering and the value of remaining humane even in inhumane circumstances.
“We make every effort to avoid pain or even minimal discomfort,” Fisch told MinnPost columnist Doug Grow. “But how can we appreciate joy without knowing suffering? Suffering is a part of the learning experience. Suffering has made me appreciate everyday existence.”
- Dr. Robert O. Fisch (Photo: Saari-Forrai Photography)
The first three sections of the book are divided into segments of Fisch’s life – “Childhood and Concentration Camps,” “After the War” and “American Years.” The last two sections are comprised of “Musings about Human Nature and Society” and “Musings about Life and Spirit.”
The book also includes original illustrations by Fisch.
Returning to Hungary after the Holocaust, Fisch was an active participant in the Hungarian Revolution against Communist suppression. For his heroism, the Hungarian government awarded him a medal in 1995 and a knighthood in 2000.
Fisch escaped to the United States in 1957. He worked as a professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota from 1979 to 1997 and is widely recognized for his research on phenylketonuria (PKU), a genetic disease that leads to retardation.
He is the author of three other books, Light from a Yellow Star: A Lesson of Love from the Holocaust, Dear Dr. Fisch: Children’s Letters to a Holocaust Survivor and The Metamorphosis to Freedom. His artwork has been exhibited in Europe, Israel and the United States.
It is obvious, however, that the experience of the Holocaust has been the defining force in Fisch’s life.
“What could those silent, slaughtered millions ask of us now? To hate? The very qualities that led to their demise? Not likely,” Fisch said in the MinnPost column. “Every day is a holiday. Every day is a gift. Celebrate.”