Nancy Sprowell Geise

Writer • Author • Speaker

Happy 99th Birthday Holocaust Survivor Joe Rubinstein!

Holocaust survivor, Joe Rubinstein (September 2019). Photo © 2019 Crystal Merrill.  Learn more about Joe’s remarkable life: Auschwitz #34207 The Joe Rubinstein Story. This award-winning book is available in print, e-book, audio book, and now, thanks to Fontis-Verlag, a publisher from Switzerland, in the German language as well!

Holocaust survivor, Joe Rubinstein (September 2019). Photo © 2019 Crystal Merrill.

Learn more about Joe’s remarkable life: Auschwitz #34207 The Joe Rubinstein Story. This award-winning book is available in print, e-book, audio book, and now, thanks to Fontis-Verlag, a publisher from Switzerland, in the German language as well!

Yesterday was a very big day for Joe Rubinstein as he celebrated his 99th birthday! As you can see from this beautiful photo taken of him last week, Joe is doing great (and so is his sweet wife Irene). Joe’s birth certificate, and several WWII era documents, show that Joe was born in 1920, in Radom, Poland. (Earlier in his life, Joe believed his birthday was in October 1922.) Whether Joe is 99 (or 97), he is an amazing man. His life is an inspiration to people around the world in never giving up, no matter the challenges. I’m so grateful for Joe’s life, and that he lived to share his story when so many others, including his entire family from Poland, did not. Joe tells everyone, “Love life. Love God. Love each other. That’s all there is.” God bless Joe!

Joe Rubinstein Signing Books About his life at Sam's Club

I came across this fun photo that I took in October 2017, of Holocaust survivor, Joe Rubinstein, signing copies of the book about his life at Sam’s Club. (Auschwitz #34207 - The Joe Rubinstein Story.) His wife, Irene, had some shopping to do…I had copies of the book in my car that I wanted Joe to sign for special future releases…so it’s seemed like as good a time as any! Beef hot dogs and Joe signing books at Sam’s Club! Who knew??


Joyful News...Joe's Story Being Published in German!

Thanks to Fontis-Verlag, a wonderful Christian publisher from Basel, Switzerland, Auschwitz #34207 - The Joe Rubinstein Story has been translated and will soon be available to German readers around the world! I am thrilled and honored Joe’s story will be part of the Fontis collection. Joe’s life is a lesson for us all in the power of bringing people together. In publishing this story about a Jewish man from Radom, Poland, Fontis shows how people of all faiths are uplifted and impacted by Joe’s remarkable life. This German publication is a testament to Joe’s words, “Love life. Love God. Love each other. That’s all there is.”

Joe, now 98 and still doing great, said recently, “I’m so happy German readers will be able to read about my life in their language.”

My deepest and heartfelt thanks to my gifted editor at Fontis, Anne Helke. I will forever be grateful to Anne for her insights, skills and her incredible patience in helping make this German version a reality. Between Anne and my English version editor, Donna Mazzitelli, I could not have been blessed with two finer editors and people! Truly!

In addition to Anne Helke and everyone at Fontis-Verlag, especially Christian Meyers for his support of this book, there are so many people I want to thank who have made this German version possible. I’m grateful to Anja MacKenzie for her beautiful translation of Joe’s story. Thanks to Ulla Ewald for taking the initiative to contact me from Germany after reading Joe’s story and letting me know of her desire to see the book translated into German and introducing me to Fontis. Thanks to Anna Termine for her kind help in walking me through the maze of foreign rights, and to Amy Collins for introducing me to Anna.

I’m thrilled Fontis will also be using the powerful photo of Joe by photographer Nicholas DeSciose for the German edition cover. Thank you, Nicholas!

The German book version would not have been possible without the incredible team of people who have helped me in so many ways, before and since, the book was first released in English, including John Forssman, Nick Zelinger, Susie Scott, Brenda King, James Mcandrew, Lightstreet Media, Polly Letofsky, Gail Nelson, Judith Briles, Joan Stewart, Daniel Hall, Mark Cocker, John Kremer, Crystal Merrill, Hallie Whitsell, Natalie Reiter, Doran Geise, Lucretia Sprowell, Carolyn and Dale Geise, Sally Robinson, Joe and Irene Rubinstein and their family, Donna Mazzitelli of Merry Dissonance Press and so many others!

I’m so grateful to Susan Weinberg for finding photos of Joe’s mother and brothers for us to be able to share in the German version. I still cannot think of the moment when Joe saw the faces of his beloved family for the first time since the early 1940s without crying myself. By finding these photos, Susan gave Joe one of the greatest gifts of his life.

Endless thank to Jakub Mitek (Radom, Poland) for his on-going research help and tremendous hospitality during my visit to Radom in 2017 to share Joe’s story at the 75th Commemoration of the Liquidation of the Radom Ghettos. Jakub’s work with the Resursa Obywatelska Culture and Arts Center helps those in Radom, Poland remember the precious lives of the Jewish people that once resided there. Thank you Hilda Chazanovitz and Sharon Grosfeld for helping to make my visit to Radom possible. 

I’m so grateful to the staff and volunteers of the Auschwitz/Birkenau Holocaust Museum and Memorial in Oswiecim, Poland for their gracious invitation to share Joe’s story with them. My deepest thanks especially to Tomasz Michaldo (Director of the Guides) for all his help in making my presentation and visit to Auschwitz/Birkenau one of the most memorable (and emotional) honors of my life.

Thanks to the staff and volunteers of the United States Holocaust Memorial and Museum, Washington, D.C. for inviting me to share Joe’s story and for all they do in helping the world to never forget.  Thanks to journalist Marsha Dubrow for her coverage of the museum event. Thanks to Paul Messersmith for hosting me for a book signing in the beautiful museum bookstore.

I can not begin to thank Michlean Amir enough for her continued help in researching and finding new documents regarding Joe’s life. 

Thanks to Gail Shirazi, United States Library of Congress, Washington D.C. for her warm and kind welcome during my visit to D.C. in sharing Joe’s story as part of their wonderful speaker series. Her zest and enthusiasm for life are infectious and remind me of Joe’s joy.

I am so grateful to Richard Rieman, Audiobook narrator/producer for his help in producing and narrating Joe’s story (English version) into an award-winning audiobook. He so beautifully, and powerfully, depicted Joe, and made the experience fun and rewarding.

A special thanks to the many reporters, radio and TV hosts who have interviewed me about Joe’s life. I want to thank especially Ralph Hipp, WIBW TV in Topeka, Kansas for having me repeatedly be a guest on his Red Couch Show to share updates regarding Joe’s life and book.

Thank you, Dave Hodgson, Talk Radio Europe for my first international interview: (recorded April 29, 2015).

I especially want to thank all the people who have invited me to present Joe’s story around the world! They have welcomed me into their homes, businesses, churches, synagogues, schools, universities, museums, bookstores, civic organizations, and their communities. Through it all, I have been uplifted by their love and support. 

And thanks finally to the multitude of readers who have taken time to read (and listen) to Joe’s story and to those who have written kind notes to me, Joe and Irene from all over the globe to let us know the impact this story is having on their lives. It means more than words can express.

And now, Joe’s remarkable journey continues in the German language. I’m so looking forward to where this latest chapter in his life will lead…

Cover German Version.jpg

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.

Survivor and reistance fighter Gitla.jpg

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.

Adorable photo of Irene and Joe.jpeg

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!

Library Banner 2.jpg

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!

Joe Rubinstein 2018.JPG

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!

Seaman high presentaton with Mike Monohan Principal.jpg
Seaman High Mike Monohan Presentation.jpg
Seaman High exterior.jpg

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!


Nacatee promotional flyer.jpg



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

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



Copyright Nancy Sprowell Geise © 2019. All Rights Reserved.