The Survivor

Robert Fisch survived the Holocaust. Now he wants to be sure it never happens again—by laughing as much as possible.

Robert Fisch was 18 when he and his father were taken from their Hungary home and sent to concentration camps. His father died, Robert survived. He became a physician at the University of Minnesota, then an artist. Now, at 85, he’s still writing books and painting.

His latest memoir—Fisch Stories: Reflections on Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—revisits some key chapters of richly inhabited his life to distill not just meaning but directive: Here’s how to have a fulfilling life. And that he has.

His message is not alarmist—he laughs more than anyone you might meet. Life, for Fisch, is a series of accidents we can no sooner predict than preoccupy ourselves with. What we can do is learn to be humane, even when the accidents are unwelcome.

Here, you can take a look at the paintings he created for his first book, Light from the Yellow Star: A Lesson of Love from the Holocaust, which were exhibited at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

And here, you can watch a several-part conversation with Fisch on his life, the Holocaust, and the particular way he memorialized it—with love—in Light from the Yellow Star.

Read more about Robert Fischer in “Accidental Artist.”