Nancy Sprowell Geise

Writer • Author • Speaker

Meeting sweet and brave Holocaust survivor and Resistance Fighter: Gitla Doppelt

Last week at the State of Kansas Holocaust Commemoration, I had the tremendous privilege of hearing Holocaust survivor and resistance fighter Gitla Doppler speak. Her life is an inspiration to us all. What an honor to meet this incredible woman! The entire commemoration was incredibly moving and powerful. Thanks to everyone who made it possible and who work tirelessly helping the world to remember. At the conclusion of the event, I told Gitla about my dear friend Joe Rubinstein, also a survivor, and offered her a copy of the book about his life. She could not thank me enough. They both have the same spirit of loving life, while having overcome unimaginable challenges.

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77 years ago today- Joe Rubinstein arrived at Auschwitz/Birkenau Concentration Camp

April 30, 1942, my dear friend, Joe Rubinstein (21), arrived at the Auschwitz/Birkenau Concentration Camp where he would be imprisoned for over two years. His only crime? Being Jewish. Sweet Joe had been taken from the Radom, Poland ghetto, leaving behind a beloved family he would never see again. His widowed mother and four siblings, including Joe’s identical twin, would all later be murdered at the Treblinka death camp along with nearly everyone else Joe knew and loved. Though he was barefooted when he was taken, he would become one of the world’s leading shoe designers. Joe is 98 now and is still the most joy-filled man I’ve ever known…this from a man who lost nearly everything a person can lose. What a lesson of hope for us all! Joe tells everyone, “Love life, love God and love each other…that’s all there is.” To learn more of Joe’s remarkable and surprising story, ask your favorite bookstore/library for the bestselling book: Auschwitz #34207 - The Joe Rubinstein Story.


Please join me at Hesson College - 7 p.m. Tuesday April 2, 2019 309 S. Main Street Hesston, Kansas

A college of Mennonite Church USA

 Author to visit campus with moving story of Holocaust survivor


Posted on March 1, 2019 by Rachel McMaster

Author Nancy Sprowell Geise will visit Hesston College on Tuesday, April 2, to share the remarkable story of Holocaust survivor Joe Rubinstein, which she wrote about in her book Auschwitz #34207: The Joe Rubinstein Story (2015). The event will be at 7 p.m., at Hesston Mennonite Church on the Hesston College campus, and is open to the public.

A reception sponsored by Hesston Public Library and Hesston United Methodist Church following the presentation will offer audience members a chance to meet Geise.

Geise, who lives in Topeka, met Rubinstein when they both lived in Colorado. Geise learned that Rubinstein, who was born in Poland, was a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp as well as others during World War II, but he told her he would never speak publically of the experiences he endured there. Five years later he changed his mind.

Rubinstein, now 98 years old, was 21 when Nazi soldiers took him from his home along with his widowed mother and two siblings. Geise’s recounting of his story shares the atrocities he faced over the next three years until the end of the war.

Of particular note in Geise’s writing, is that Rubinstein did not let the pain, torture and horrors he faced as a prisoner define his life, but rather chose to find joy and rise above the evil he endured.

Following the book’s release in 2015, Auschwitz #34207 earned the top spot on the Amazon Bestseller list in the Holocaust Memoirs (Kindle) category, and has garnished high praise from leading Holocaust scholars, national reviewers and readers.

Geise has traveled the country sharing Rubinstein’s story, including at the U.S. Library of Congress and as the keynote presentation of the 2016 State of Kansas Holocaust Commemoration Service.

Find further information about Auschwitz #34207 and Geise.


Joe Surprises the Audience at Colorado State University

What a tremendous surprise for the audience when I was sharing Joe Rubinstein’s remarkable story (Auschwitz #34207 -The Joe Rubinstein Story) when Joe and Irene Rubinstein walked down the aisle to the front. There was not a dry eye the house. It was a room full of love when the crowd gave them a standing ovation that went on and on! It was a moment I will cherish the rest of my life!


Colorado Friends Join me March 20th 7 p.m. in Fort Collins!

I’m so excited to be returning to Fort Collins to share Joe Rubinstein’s story at the invitation of Colorado State University Morgan Library, Poudre River Public Library, Poudre River Friends of the Library, The Liggett Family Endowment, KUNC, Hilton Fort Collins, and Old Firehouse Books for their Evening with An Author Series.

Location: Hilton Fort Collins, 425 W. Prospect Road. Seating is first-come, first-served basis. Free and open to the public. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Happy Birthday Sweet Irene!

Happy birthday Irene Rubinstein! Shortly after WW2, while living in Germany, Irene’s father overhead a young man standing on a street corner speaking with a Polish accent. Being from Poland originally himself, Irene’s father struck up a conversation. The young man was Holocaust survivor Joe Rubinstein. Irene’s father took an immediate liking to Joe and invited him over for dinner, saying, “Oh, and by the way, I have a beautiful daughter.” Well Joe and that beautiful daughter, Irene, have now been married over 71 years! Without Irene, Joe says he would be “6’feet under.” Instead, they are still together (Joe is 98) and today they celebrate Irene’s birthday. Happy birthday sweet and beautiful Irene! (To learn more about Joe and Irene’s remarkable love story, read Auschwitz #34207 - The Joe Rubinstein Story.

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Thank You Emporia State University!

I cannot express how impressed I am with Emporia State University (Emporia, Kansas) and their Union Activity Council! They invited me to share Joe Rubinstein’s story on Feb. 20, 2019, and it was a wonderful evening. This dynamic group of students and staff could not have been more enthusiastic, professional, talented and passionate in making the event possible and so memorable. I will never forget their warm welcome. The posters and marketing material they produced were beautiful. To the nearly 200 of you students, staff and community who came to hear Joe’s remarkable story of hope…thank you from the bottom of my heart.

A wonderful crew to help load books!

A wonderful crew to help load books!

So grateful to the Topeka & Shawnee Country Public Library!

Wow…Miranda Ericsson and the staff of the public library in Topeka, Kansas put together an amazing and powerful event on the date of the liberation of Auschwitz. Thank you Miranda and your staff for inviting me to share Joe Rubinstein’s Story with your library community. And a special thank you to Rabbi Debbie Stiel of the Temple Beth Shalom (Topeka, KS) for the wonderful and moving introduction!

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Holocaust Survivor Celebrates His 98th Birthday this Week! Happy Birthday Joe Rubinstein!

As you can see from this photo taken earlier this summer, Joe Rubinstein is doing great. He turned 98 on Monday! Joe survived the unimaginable to live a remarkable life filled with hope, faith and love. He is an inspiration to us all! I thank God for Joe! To learn more about how a man, taken from his home in Poland by the Nazis when he was 21, goes on to become one of the leading shoe designers in the world read: Auschwitz #34207 The Joe Rubinstein Story. And be sure to comment and share, wishing Joe the happiest of birthdays!

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Thank you Seaman High School!

Wow! Nearly 1,000 students from Seaman High (Topeka, Kansas) were in attendance this morning as I shared Holocaust survivor, Joe Rubinstein's story (Auschwitz #34207). What a tremendous group of students! They were all so incredibly gracious and courteous. I appreciated their insightful questions and feedback afterwards. Thank you Principal Mike Monaghan and teacher Susan Sittenauer for the wonderful invitation! I could not be any more impressed with you, your staff and your students!

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Thank you for the warm welcome Nacatee Community, Ponte Vedra, Florida!

A heartfelt thanks to the incredible staff and the over 200 residents of the Nacatee Community in Ponte Vedra, Florida who joined me last week to hear Joe Rubinstein's Story. I was so impressed with the efforts of so many to make this such a memorable evening. I especially want to thank David Ray - the Community Manager, Hannah Pickett - the Community Events Coordinator, and the staff who helped make this wonderful event possible. The residents of Nacatee are blessed to have such dedicated professionals. It was a true pleasure to meet so many residents afterwards and learn a little more about their lives. It was extra special to have my mom, Lucretia Sprowell, assisting me in the book signing after the presentation. She always makes life more fun!


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Some of the wonderful Nocatee staff...and my mom, Lucretia   

Some of the wonderful Nocatee staff...and my mom, Lucretia



Sharing Joe's Story with the Guides of Auschwitz - An Honor of a Lifetime

On January 23, 2018, inside the #12 Barrack of Auschwitz, I had the honor of a lifetime to share the remarkable story of holocaust survivor, Joe Rubinstein, with several of the guides of the Auschwitz/Birkenau Memorial and Monument in Oświęcim, Poland. 76 years earlier, Joe, age 21, arrived at the concentration camp on April 30, 1942, where he would endure the unimaginable. He became, as he said, "An experienced prisoner. I knew how to live, and I knew how to die." After over two years at Auschwitz/Birkenau, Joe was sent to several other notorious camps, but not before learning that his entire family, including his identical twin, had been murdered by the Nazis at the Treblinka Death Camp. Joe has never been back to his homeland of Poland. I was grateful I could go on his behalf. Though he is 97 now, Joe's memories of Auschwitz are vivid. It was, as he said, "Hell." 

This was my second visit in six months to Auschwitz. While the heat of August was stifling, visiting in January was more telling. Even more than the starvation he endured, it was the cold that Joe said was the cruelest of punishments. As I stood in my winter coat, my hat and mittens inside one of the wooden barracks of Birkenau, identical to the one where Joe lived, I shivered against the biting air. I could not imagine how he, or anyone else, survived with no warm clothes and no insulation, sleeping in the mere shack designed to house livestock. It is beyond my ability to comprehend how anyone left there alive. Joe still cannot believe that he did.

There were tears on the faces of those who listened as I shared Joe's story with guides...faces of those special people who have devoted so much of their lives to touring the nearly 3 million visitors a year through the Museum and Memorial, and sharing with them about the precious lives lost there...and of those few, like Joe, who lived to tell theirs. I am profoundly grateful for everyone at Auschwitz, and the many people around the world, who work so hard to keep the memory of what happened during the dark and terrible days of the holocaust alive. We must never forget.

But, there were smiles, too, on the faces of the guides, knowing that for Joe at least, his story did not end at Auschwitz. Joe Rubinstein's story of triumph continues to this day, as he and his wife of over 70 years are spending a few weeks this cold winter, walking the beaches of Mexico, enjoying the warmth of the sun and the blessings of being alive.

To learn more about Joe's story check out: Auschwitz #34207 - The Joe Rubinstein Story.






Copyright Nancy Sprowell Geise © 2019. All Rights Reserved.