Articles and Analysis



I need to go off-topic for a few moments and share a personal story:

Frank Burstin was a hero of mine. He was born Efraim Bursztynowicz in Poland in 1925. In 1941, at the age of 16, the Nazi's took him from his parents in the Lodz Ghetto in Poland and sent him to a forced labor camp. Two years later, he was transfered to the Auschwitz/Birkenau death camps and was one of only a handful "selected" for more slave labor rather than immediate death in the gas chambers. He managed to defy all odds for another two years, surviving even an infamous "death march" from Auschwitz to Mauthuasen, before being liberated by American troops on May 8, 1945. After the war, having lost his entire family, he spent time in a displaced person's camp in Italy, joined the Irgun and met his future wife before ultimately settling in New York City. He was a kind and optimistic soul who wrote poetry, loved literature, the New York Mets, a good round of golf, his family and especially his seven grandchildren.

He was also my father-in-law. Last night, he passed away at the age of 83 after a brief but brutal bout with bladder cancer. He will be sorely missed.

Why should I think about yesterday
and lose this beautiful today?
Why should I worry about a tomorrow
that may never be?
So live for today
Because yesterday will never return,
And who knows what tomorrow will be.
--Frank Burstin


For some reason, the final week of the last two presidential elections has coincided with with momentous events in my family. Last time it was a joyous occasion. This time, not so much. Needless to say, my father-in-law's passing comes at a particularly challenging time. I will be offline the rest of the day, and hope to be back as time allows in a day or two.



Sorry for your loss, Mark. Your father-in-law sounds like a wonderful man. Our thoughts are with you.



Sorry to hear that Mark. That anyone can endure what he did and be the sort of person you describe is humbling and inspiring. I wish I'd met him on the golf course.



Just as it was your privilege to know him, it was our privilege to share your thoughts about his life.


Mike Canada:

Sorry for your loss; there are no words.


Gary Kilbride:

I'm very sorry, Mark. Basil's comment was well said and I'll echo it.



I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. It's always inspiring to hear about someone has gone through so much yet still remains so positive and never gives up. They truly were the greatest generation. Your father-in-law is probably very proud of your accomplishments.



Leif Knutsen:

So sorry for your loss. May his memory always be for a blessing. For someone to arise from the ashes as he did and still have a hopeful, loving view of life should be an inspiration for us all. Thanks for sharing this.



Mark, my wife and I are very sorry to hear of Efraim's passing. Please send our love and a hug to Helen and the kids.



and for his poem.

I'm sorry to hear of your loss.



Sorry about your loss, Mark, my and my family's wishes are with you.



Alev ha-shalom, and best wished to your family.



I hope that you find some comfort now in the memories of the times that you shared with Frank. And I hope that you carry a sense of the inspiration that he brought to your life with you always in your heart.




Mark - Thank you for sharing Efraim's strength and your memories with us. Best wishes to you and your family, and we are sorry for your loss.



My most sincere condolences to you and your family and all who loved your father-in-law, because a man such as Efraim surely had too many friends to list. Peace be with you during this difficult time, and may your wonderful memories and your family be a source of strength for you all.



I'm so sorry to hear about this, Mark. We have several Holocaust survivors, and adult children of survivors, in my shul and I cannot help but marvel at the courage they found. May your beloved father-in-law's memory continue to inspire those who knew him and hear his story.


we're of an age where we can relate. Sigh.


My wife is Jewish and I converted to Judaism about 20 years ago. In that time, I've attempted to learn about the horrors of the Holocaust in a way that made it more personal. I recently reviewed "The Diary of Petr Ginz" for the Jewish Journal here in Los Angeles:


Petr's story is one of those who did not survive the camps. And then there are the stories of the survivors such as your father-in-law. I see why he is your hero. Thank you for sharing Efraim's story with us. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.




May you and your wife be comforted among the mourners of Zion. We and our children must always remember to keep their stories alive. Please take advantage of the shiva tradition, one of the most powerful aspects of Judaism. Take all the time you need. We will be here when you return. As someone who has lost both parents in the past two years, deepest condolences.



I am sorry for your family's loss. Our prayers are with you. Blessed are the days ahead...



Thank you for sharing.



Two weeks ago, I chaperoned a trip to the Holocaust Memorial Museum for my 12-year-old daughter's religious school class. It is so difficult to understand the entirety of the Holocaust, but it is so easy to relate to any one person's story.

Thank you for sharing Efraim's story.



You have honored Efraim's memory with this beautiful and loving tribute, Mark. Thank you for sharing your father-in-law's story, and your personal loss, with all of us. Please pass along condolences from all of us, your "virtual family," who greatly appreciate the information you work so hard to give us.



sorry for your loss, you do a great service to the nation with this site, keep up the good work.



Mark, I'm so sorry for your family's loss. Thank you for sharing this sad and beautiful story, it has moved me enormously. Frank's poem puts this election in a perspective that is much-needed exactly right now. He sounds like a lovely man.

Thank you as well for this calm and informative website. SML



I'm so sorry, Mark -- thank you for sharing Frank's story with us. He sounds like he was a wonderful man. All the best to you and your family.

As with four years ago, you've helped so many of get through the run-up to this election. Thanks so much, again.



my condolences, sir. my grandfather escaped the nazis and worked in a labor camp in russia during the war, citing his intuition as a reason to flee before the blitzkreig in poland. i would not be here if it weren't for him.

i have turned to this site as my number one source of polling news. thanks



Mark, we are very sorry about your loss.




My father-in-law was a member of the resistance in the Netherlands in WWII. He came to the US after the war and was emblematic of the immigrant success story in this country.

He passed several years ago, much to my sorrow. My condolences on your loss. I suspect you treasure your good fortune in knowing your father-in-law as I do.



Lest we forget a fallen hero and role model for we younger generations. I have great affection to our Polish WW II resistance leaders, the PHA, Dutch patriots like Han Stijkel, and to the brave maquis groups of Britanny like those of jean Moulin, and les Forces Françaises de l'Intérieur and maquisards of southern France. They were a mix bag of nationalists, rightists and leftists, but were all united to fight tyranny.



Thanks for letting us know this, Mark. And thanks for keeping this site thriving in the midst of what must have been--and must still be--a very sad time for you and your family.



Your Father-in-Law was a brilliant man.

I've written down two lines from his poem to use as a guidepost:

"Why should I think about yesterday
And lose this beautiful today."
- Frank Burstin

Those words are especially beautiful when considering the yesterdays he knew as a boy surviving two death camps.

I hope you find additional ways to publish that poem matched with his life story.



My condolences, Mark. He is at peace in a time of turmoil and beyond pain, loved by those who remain.



May God bless his soul, Mark, and may he rest in peace.



Sorry for your lost, Mark. Thanks for all your great work!



What we all gain from his passing far exceeds the loss. I have nothing in my life that compares with Efraim's extraordinary history. I am grateful for your gift of sharing...



My condolences. Please know that Frank's words brought a lot of joy to my day, and I'm sharing them with my friends. I think that's what he would want, and I very much appreciate his spirit.





המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שער אבילי ציון וירושלים

"The Omnipresent will comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem"



I wish peace and comfort for you, your wife, and your extended family.

Having lost my dad within the past year, my heart goes out to all of you.

His life and memory are well honored by you.




From our house to your house, our deepest sympathy even as w, like you, celebrate his life with thanks for doing his bit to make the world a brighter place.



Michael D.:

Mark, I'm sorry to hear about your loss. Thank you for sharing what's happening in your life with us. It's good to remember that, behind all of the sturm and drang of politics, we're all people with moments of celebration and moments of sadness.

My condolences.



My condolences also. We appreciate what you do on here Mark and are truly sorry. His legacy will live on through his amazing story.



My condolences. He survived hell and lived to enjoy decades more of family life and leisure - there's some justice in that. They tried to take him down but instead he died in old age. Thank you for paying tribute to him here, amidst the hectic but fleeting polls.



What a great story of survival under the worst of odds. Thank you for sharing this with us; you have my condolences.



My condolences....brings back memories of my father-in-law...a real poet/artist at heart tho he ran a Catskills resort for over 30 years to raise his 4 children, including my late wife. Thank you for sharing.



I was very saddened to read your post. I'm sure your father-in-law was a wonderful man, and that he's in a better place now.



Sorry to hear of your loss. I saved that wonderful poem, as it's is extremely encouraging, especially considering the story behind it. Thank you for sharing it with the rest of us.



I'm very sorry to hear about your loss. Thank you for letting us know - and indeed for even making any postings today, that shows real dedication.



I am so sorry for your loss. His life is an inspiration to us all.

REM and many others have said: "Living well's the best revenge", and so your father in law outlived, in both longevity and quality, his brutal tormentors.

The urge to live well is, it seems to me, what draws many of us here.




My deepest condolences, Mark. Frank will live on through you and the wonderful family he left behind.



I'm sorry for your loss. That was a beautiful eulogy.



May his memory be a blessing to your family; and may he be a "melitz yosher" - a righteous advocate in heaven for his children and their loved ones.



Condolences on your great loss. I can see how great a light such an individual must have shed on the path of those that have traveled along his path through life and suffering in unwavering hope.
Thank you for sharing with us his exemplary life and letting us to ponder about how we too should strive to be better people even and foremost when facing great challenges.



I am sorry for your loss. Like many other Jewish survivors, Efraim was a big winner.



Mark -
I am very sorry for your family's loss. What a wonderful man. My grandparents were from Poland, and I have visited both Lodz and Auschwitz/Birkenau. It is a miracle he survived. His spirit endures, as it did during his long and loving life.
Peace to you and your whole family.


Dana Adini:

may his soul rest in peace.



My condolences.

Efraim will surely be missed, as will the others who had to suffer so horribly and yet still managed to survive against all odds.

I don't know if it might mean anything to you, but just this weekend there is going to be the dedication ceremony of a memorial for the IG Farben's former Monowitz slave laborers (and especially for their advocate for punitive charges against IG Farben, Norbert Wollheim) by the University of Frankfurt/Germany, right in front of IG Farben's former main office building.

They will be remembered!!!


Nick Panagakis:

Very sorry for your loss Mark.

That is a beautiful poem.

Last month I lost both brothers-in-law. Both WW II vets.

It's becoming a lost generation.




I've been a fan of your site for many months now. I really appreciate your efforts to make sense of the electoral process on a level everyday people can understand.

Reading your father-in-law's story, it occurred to me that he was probably proud of your work. Of all people, Mr. Burstin knew the value of democracy, and the hard work and eternal vigilance needed to preserve it.

My sincere condolences.



Your father-in-law was right, and with his background his praise of "beautiful today" is as moving as Horace's 2000-year-old poem "Carpe Diem":

Ask not —we cannot know— what end the gods have set for you, for me; nor attempt to read the stars Leuconoë. How much better to endure whatever comes, whether Jupiter grants us additional winters or whether this is our last, which now wears out the Tuscan Sea beating on the cliffs! Be wise, strain the wine; and since life is brief, prune back far-reaching hopes! Even while we speak, envious time has passed. Pluck the day, putting as little trust as possible in tomorrow!

Here's the Latin
Tu ne quaesieris—scire nefas—quem mihi, quem tibi
finem di dederint, Leuconoë, nec Babylonios
temptaris numeros. ut melius, quicquid erit, pati!
seu plures hiemes, seu tribuit Iuppiter ultimam,
quae nunc oppositis debilitat pumicibus mare
Tyrhenum. Sapias, vina liques, et spatio brevi
spem longam reseces. dum loquimur, fugerit invida
aetas: carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.


Vicente Duque:

Mark :

My condolences, reading your post I remembered my very old neighbor and friend when I was a kid.

I had an old teacher, a neighbor, and he taught me German in my home.

He was a Jew and escaped to Switzerland from Koln ( or Colonnia ??? ) in Germany. He lived the Nazi Nightmare. His family was murdered by the Nazis.

I learned a lot of History of Germany and Israel, Philosophy, Literature, etc ... talking in German with my old friend.

How sad, I lost my old friend too. There was too much age difference.

Vicente Duque


some of us are fortunate to be taught by example about patience, gentleness, humor, generosity, intellect, goodness, joy and love. if i were a betting woman, i'd guess you are one of the very lucky ones, having both father and duaghter in your life.

your loss is a loss for all of us.


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