Every picture represents a story.
During our visit, Stephen took me into a small room in his home filled with family pictures. In the middle of the room was a beautiful painting that Stephen Nasser had painted of his parents and older brother from a photograph taken before the war.
I asked Stephen, “How were you able to save all of these family photographs?”
“Not all of my family was killed during the Holocaust,” he said. “Some of them were saved by a Swedish diplomat named Raoul Wallenberg. They were able to hang onto some of our family photographs.”
Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat that came to Budapest, Hungary, and helped save the lives of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews. To learn about him, please click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raul_Wallenberg
Stephen Nasser next showed me his living room. He pointed out a statue of Joseph Smith, the founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, with his brother Hyrum Smith behind him. The two of them were close and were brutally killed by a mob in Carthage Jail on June 27, 1844.
Pointing the statue out to me Stephen said, “A member from your church in Salt Lake City gave this to me. They told me, ‘I know you were close with your brother Andris before he died. You may not share our beliefs but I thought you’d appreciate this statue because I am sure you can relate to the brotherly bond the Smiths shared.’ That’s why I keep it; because it reminds me of the bond I felt and still feel with my brother.”
Through the living room window, Stephen pointed out his backyard, filled with many statues, plants, and trees. He pointed out a statue to me in the middle. It was of two young boys playing. One of the boys was climbing up a ladder while the other was holding it to make sure the other didn’t fall.
“That statue is significant to me,” said Stephen, “there’s not a day goes by where I don’t think of my brother. I like to think that statue is of me helping my older brother Andris go peacefully to heaven when he died in my arms in Muhldorf.”
I learned that Stephen hadn’t published his diary for one reason—his uncle. In 1943, his Jewish uncle was drafted into the Hungarian Army to fight on the Russian Front. Because of that, his uncle was not with Stephen and the rest of his family when they were sent to Auschwitz. His uncle survived the war and was reunited with Stephen in 1945. He asked Stephen if he knew the fate of his wife, Bozsi, and baby son, Peter.
“Unfortunately, I was an eyewitness to their murder just a few feet away,” said Stephen, “so, I looked at him and lied.”
It wasn’t until after 1996, when his uncle passed away, that Stephen published his diary and the story of what really happened to his uncle’s family in Auschwitz. Today, Stephen travels the world delivering motivational speeches to many audiences and is in the process of making his book My Brother’s Voice into a play. He focuses specifically on family unity and love.
Nasser tells audience members, ““Do you know how much I would give from my life to be able to hug my brother, my parents, or do an errand for them? I would give half my life but I can’t. But all of you still have this opportunity.”
Lastly, he encourages listeners to often express love to their families and to give them two hugs instead of one.
“And if they ask, ‘What’s the second hug for?’ You can tell them, ‘It’s for Mr. Nasser because he cannot hug his family.’”
Talking with Stephen for two hours changed my life. I learned to be more optimistic during trials, to look for the good in dark times, and to appreciate my family even more than before. Your family needs your love, especially in these dark times. Don’t let anything sever your relationship with them. Let them know you love them as you’ll never know when they will be gone.
To learn more about Stephen Nasser, I would highly encourage you to read his book My Brother’s Voice. I just finished reading the entire book in one weekend and was astounded with all the miracles that Stephen saw. I’ve only shared a tiny portion of Stephen’s incredible story. Read his book and get to know him. This is a man worth knowing! Also check out his blog at: http://mybrothersvoice.com/category/stephen-nasser/