Samuel R. Harris was four years old in 1939 when Hitler overran the town in which he lived, Demblin, Poland. Hitler destroyed Mr. Harris’ large family. He spent three and a half years in two concentration camps: Demblin and Czestochowa. At age nine and a half, he was miraculously liberated by the Russian Army on January 17, 1945.


Sam Harris is a 1958 graduate of Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa, where he received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science. He joined the Equitable Life Assurance Society in 1960 and became a member of the exclusive Equitable Hall of Fame. Sam served on the Chicago Board of Life Underwriters and President of the General Agency Managers Association. As an agent, he became a Life Member of the Million Dollar Round Table.


Sam Harris has been very active in community and scholastic affairs. He is a former board member of Spertus College of Judaica. He served on the Board of Directors for Forest Hospital. He is currently on the Board of Directors of South Central Bank in Chicago. Sam Harris has been a member (and former officer) of The Rotary Club of Northbrook, Illinois for 45 years. He is a former President of Northbrook United Way.

Sam Harris spearheaded the building of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center. He currently serves as President Emeritus of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, Illinois. He speaks frequently to schools, churches and community groups throughout the country about his childhood experiences during the Holocaust, lessons he learned during the time he spent hiding in concentration camps, and his experience and role in the building of the Holocaust Museum in Illinois.

A Holocaust Museum is in the process of being organized in the Phoenix area and Mr. Harris is currently serving on it’s Board of Directors.


In 2001 Mr. Harris wrote his autobiography, Sammy, Child Survivor of the Holocaust and in 2005 and 2010 the second and third edition were published. Spanish, Japanese, Russian and Polish editions are now available.


  • In 2005, Sam Harris was awarded “The State of Illinois Human Rights Award for Distinguished Leadership for Protecting the Human Rights of the People of Illinois.”
  • Grinnell College awarded Mr. Harris the coveted Alumni Award.
  • Sam Harris received from Temple Chai in Long Grove, Illinois their first Tikkun Olum Award, “Repairing the World”
  • Northbrook Rotary Club awarded Sam Harris The “Service Above Self” award.
  • He was awarded by Chicago Magazine,” Chicagoan of the Year, 2009”
  • The Forward Newspaper named Sam Harris one of the most influential Jewish People in America in 2009.
  • In 2011, New Trier High School named Sam Harris one of the ten outstanding graduates of all time.
  • In 2013, The Boy Scouts of America awarded Sam Harris The Distinguished Citizenship Award.
  • In 2014, Recipient of the coveted Ellis Island Medal of Honor.
  • On April 12, 2015, Sam will be The Chicago Jewish Federation Honoree and Speaker at Temple Chai, in Long Grove.
  • On May 16, 2015, Sam will be the keynote speaker at the Tri-State Rotary in Appleton, Wisconsin.


A documentary has been produced about Sam Harris by Eric Cosh and Ellen Palestrant, titled: SAMMY THE JOURNEY.

The documentary has been accepted by the Jewish Film Festival in the following cities:

  • Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • St. Augustine, Florida
  • Chicago, Illinois

Sam Harris resides with his wife Dede in the northern suburbs of Chicago, Illinois and winters in Scottsdale, Arizona. Their children include daughter Julie and her husband Jeff and their two children Jeremy and Jessica. Their son David is recently deceased.