Ninety-year-old Bert Kotlarczyk works at a Rehabilitation Center near Denver and says it's gratifying to help others who can no longer help themselves.
This 90-year-old is not just a chef but also a Holocaust survivor. He has been serving fresh meals for many decades now. Bert Kotlarczyk still works full-time in the kitchen of the Rehabilitation Center at Sandalwood after serving up meals for 48 years at Denver Health. It is certainly an unlikely life course for the beloved Denver legend, whose journey initially started in Germany during the onset of the Nazi regime. He was only 6 years old when he had to leave Germany because he was a Jew, as reported by Denver7.
90-year-old Holocaust survivor Bert Kotlarczyk fled Nazi Germany as a child, finding refuge in China and then in the US. Today, he continues to be dedicated to his work - as a cook at a seniors' home near Denver.https://t.co/isyKqHNAqA— World Jewish Congress (@WorldJewishCong) March 20, 2023
"My mother lost all of her family in Germany," Bert said while recalling his eventual emigration from Europe to America. "She had a family of 13 brothers and sisters - all gone." After a decade-long stay in Shanghai, Bert eventually found a home in Colorado, where he discovered his passion for cooking. "I had nothing to eat. My shoes had no soles on them. We put cardboard in them," he told Good Morning America.
Glad you love Bert as much as I do. Bert says everyone outside his immediately family died in Germany, but I’m hoping I can somehow find him a long lost family member. His last name is Kotlarczyk if anyone knows someone with that name— Danny New (@DannyNewTV) February 9, 2023
After learning what scarcity truly feels, he feels gratified that he gets to feed older people who cannot do all the cooking themselves. His dedication to his work is truly inspiring. Once, he even called the police during a blizzard. They came as quickly as possible and thought he might need to be rescued. But he said to them, "my job is very important. I need to feed 80-90 people. Can you take me to my workplace?" At that time, he was the only chef who showed up for work that day, as reported by GMA.
Even today, at 90 years old, he takes personal requests from residents and cooks them their favorite meals. He truly enjoys bringing a smile to the face of others. He further told GMA, "I feel good when I have accomplished something at the end of the day and that is, when I look at their plate and when it's empty." He also added that he made banana bread whenever the senior citizens of Denver wanted it. At this old age, he considered retiring after working for almost five decades, but he realized, "as long as I am doing something, I am busy, I am healthy. Just move all the time. On his Jewish heritage, he said, "I am a Jew. I was born one. And I am going to die one. I went to bed hungry for 10 years to wear this (pointing to his Star of David chain).
In another such touching instance, Gidon Lev, 87, was among the 92 children who survived Auschwitz. He is 87 years old now. Recently, he found a drawing that he had created at the Theresienstadt camp in 1944 when he was just 9 years old. Lev and his partner Julie Gray posted a Tiktok video in which he was looking at the drawing. It shows Lev's favorite sport – soccer. In the drawing, there are children who are playing the game. As mentioned in the video, “It was saved from Theresienstadt after the camp was liberated in 1945.” Then it is written, “A soccer game he could only dream of.”
@ukinisrael was honoured to host Holocaust survivor Gidon Lev at my Residence last night for #ZikaronBasalon. An amazing story of optimism through horror. #NeverForget @HolocaustUK #YomHaShoah2022 pic.twitter.com/CDT6bopZbL— Neil Wigan (@FCDONeilWigan) April 29, 2022
Holocaust was one of the most horrific instances that humankind has ever been a part of, but even from it, stories of human triumph have emerged.