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Sigi Ziering

Sigi Ziering (March 20, 1928 - November 12, 2000) was a German-born American business executive, playwright and philanthropist. A Holocaust survivor, he immigrated to the United States with his family and worked as a nuclear scientist. He was the Founder and President of the Diagnostic Products Corporation, later acquired by Siemens as their subsidiary, Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics. He became a significant Jewish philanthropist in Los Angeles, California.

Sigi Ziering
Born Siegfried Ziering
March 20, 1928
Kassel, Germany
Died November 12, 2000
Los Angeles, California
Cause of death brain cancer
Education Brooklyn College
Syracuse University
Occupation Business executive, playwright, philanthropist
Spouse(s) Marilyn Ziering
Children Michael Ziering
Ira Ziering
Rosanne Ziering
Amy Ziering
Parent(s) Isaac Ziering
Cilly Ziering
Relatives Herman Ziering (brother)
Gil Kofman (son-in-law)

Contents

BiographyEdit

Early lifeEdit

Siegfried Ziering was born on March 20, 1928 in Kassel, Germany.[1][2] His father, Isaac Ziering, was Polish.[1] His mother was named Cilly.[1][2] He had a brother, Herman.[1][2] His family was Jewish.[1]

During World War II, his father escaped to England, but his mother and her two sons stayed in Germany.[1][2] In 1941, the Nazis forced them to move to the Riga Ghetto in modern-day Riga, Latvia, alongside 1,000 Jews.[1][3][4] Only twenty survived, including Sigi, his mother and his brother.[1] By the end of the war, they were moved to a prison in Fuhlsbüttel.[1] The Nazis took 10 Jews a day to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.[1] They were later moved to the concentration camp in Kiel and forced into slave labor.[1] In 1945, they were rescued by the Swedish Red Cross.[1] Indeed, Count Bernadotte of Sweden had negotiated with Himmler to rescue a few thousand Jews for a few millions of dollars.[3] They were first moved to Sweden and eventually to London, where they met their father.[1][2][4]

Sigi immigrated to New York City with his family in 1949.[1] He received a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Brooklyn College and a master's degree and PhD from Syracuse University.[1]

CareerEdit

He started his career at Raytheon, where he worked on nuclear reactors in Boston.[1] He then worked for Allied Research on space projects.[1] In 1961, he was the founder and President of Space Sciences, a government contractor.[1] In 1968, the company was acquired by the Whittaker Corporation for US$1.8 million.[1] He worked as a researcher for Whittaker in California.[1]

After he quit his job at the Whittaker Corporation, he founded fish meal company, but the business failed.[1] Later, he founded Diagnostic Products Corporation, a medical supplies company.[1][2] It was later acquired by Siemens as their subsidiary, known as Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics.[3]

The Judgement of Herbert BierhoffEdit

Sigi wrote a play entitled The Judgement of Herbert Bierhoff.[2] The play is about the destruction of Jewish families during the Holocaust.[2] It is based on the true lifestory of Herbert Bierhoff, a German Jew who poisons his daughter when he hears she is going to be executed by the Nazis.[2] When the Nazis find out what he has done, they kill him too.[2] His widow is sent to the camp in Riga, where she dies of exhaustion.[2] Upon dying, she asks her late husband's friend Shimon to ensure judges see that Herbert's action was merciful in light of the circumstances.[2] Survivors David, Kurt and Esther debate whether Herbert did the right thing or not.[2] The play was analyzed by John K. Roth, a Professor of Philosophy of Religion at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California.[2]

In September 1999, the play was first performed at the University of Judaism, later known as the American Jewish University by Jon Voight and Cloris Leachman.[3] In 2008, the play was performed again by students at his alma mater, Syracuse University.[4]

 
Temple Beth Am, Marilyn & Sigi Ziering Family Synagogue Center.

PhilanthropyEdit

He was a philanthropist to Jewish causes.[1] Indeed, he was President of Temple Beth Am.[3] He also served on the Board of Trustees of the American Jewish University in Bel Air and as co-chair of the Los Angeles section of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C..[3][5] In 1976, with his wife, he endowed a program at the Sheba Medical Center to screen all children born in Israel for hypothyroidism, thus saving more than 2,000 Israeli children from mental retardation.[6]

Personal lifeEdit

He married Marilyn Ziering, a philanthropist, in 1953.[1] They joined Temple Beth Am, a Conservative Jewish congregation in Los Angeles in 1969.[7] The couple had two sons and two daughters:

DeathEdit

He died of brain cancer on November 12, 2000.[1]

LegacyEdit

Shortly after his death, his widow established the Sigi Ziering Institute Exploring the Ethical and Religious Implications of the Holocaust at the American Jewish University in Bel Air.[10] In 2007, she endowed the Sigi and Marilyn Ziering National Center for Newborn Screening at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel HaShomer, Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv, Israel, helping screen Israeli-born children from early signs of mental retardation.[6][11] In February 2013, she also established the US$1 million Marilyn and Sigi Ziering Endowment for the Arts at Shalem College in Jerusalem, Israel.[12] Additionally, she has endowed the Marilyn and Sigi Ziering Brandeis Collegiate Institute (BCI).[13]

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has preserved a 12-page letter Sigi Ziering wrote to his father from Sweden on June 24, 1945 as well as a testimony given to the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education on February 28, 1999, both describing his ordeal at the hands of the Nazis.[14][15] The documents can be read and heard at the museum.[14][15]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac Myrna Oliver, Sigi Ziering; Tycoon Survived Nazi Camps, The Los Angeles Times, November 14, 2000
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n John K. Roth, 'Foreword: How to Live in the Interim?', in Eric Sterling, Life In The Ghettos During The Holocaust, Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, 2005, pp. [1]
  3. ^ a b c d e f Naomi Pfefferman, Judgment of Herbert Bierhoff, The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, September 9, 1999
  4. ^ a b c Kelly Homan Rodoski, Syracuse University to host groundbreaking symposium on Holocaust education, Syracuse University, October 09, 2008
  5. ^ Naty Saidoff, Meet some extraordinary givers, The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, November 15, 2007
  6. ^ a b Norma Zager, Good friends; Keeping the Covenant; Marvelous Mandy, The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, April 12, 2007
  7. ^ Temple Beth Am: The Ziering Family
  8. ^ Danielle Berrin, Amy Ziering’s visible war against military rape, The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, February 6, 2013
  9. ^ Michal Shmulovich, ‘Gatekeepers’ director plays down Oscar hopes, The Times of Israel, February 24, 2013
  10. ^ American Jewish University: Sigi Ziering Institute
  11. ^ Sheba Medical Center: Ziering newborn screening center
  12. ^ Ziering Family Donates $1 Million to Establish Endowment for the Arts and Fund for Philosophy and Ethics, Shalem College, February 24, 2013
  13. ^ Penn Hillel: The Marilyn and Sigi Ziering Brandeis Collegiate Institute (BCI)
  14. ^ a b United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: Sigi Ziering memoir
  15. ^ a b United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: USC Shoah Foundation Institute testimony of Siegfried Sigi Ziering