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Memorial for Isaac Nittenberg

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Graveside: 11:00 AM Wednesday, September 4th, 2019
Home of Peace Cemetery - Colma
1299 El Camino Real
Colma, CA 94014
Memorial Contribution: ACLU of Northern California
39 Drumm Street
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 621-2493
Memorial Contribution: Southern Poverty Law Center
400 Washington Ave.
Montgomery, AL 36104
(334) 956-8200
Memorial Contribution: Steve Negoesco Soccer Fund at USF
130 Fulton Street
San Francisco,, CA 94117-1080
(415) 422-2873

Isaac B Nittenberg, age 92, passed away on August 30, 2019. Isaac was born in Lódz, Poland to Dora and Fiszel Nitenberg who, along with his sister Rachel, perished in the Holocaust. Isaac was the only member of his family to survive.

From ages 13 to 18, Isaac endured great suffering under Nazi internment. In the early years of World War II, Isaac was subjected to hard labor in the Lódz ghetto. After four years of back-breaking work and near starvation, he and his family were shipped to Auschwitz on the last transport out of the ghetto. At Auschwitz, all but Isaac were gassed. Isaac was subsequently transferred to four other camps until finally arriving at Türkheim where, during the last days of the war, he and a friend escaped with help and compassion from a commanding officer who heard of the coming death marches and wanted to get the two boys out. While escaping, Isaac was shot in the leg but managed to hide on a farm until the boys were given ID papers from an American convoy. With documentation, they then were able to bike, hike and hitchhike towards safety. Initially heading towards Switzerland, they got a tip to go to Memmingen where MPs took them to a hospital. Here Isaac was treated for gangrene that had developed in his leg and recuperated for six weeks. After the war, Isaac spent a few years in Germany helping American Intelligence identify Nazis. Then in the 1980s, he testified at the war crime tribunals at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Although at last physically free, Isaac would never be released from the memories of unimaginable suffering and loss. What made life bearable were laughter, soccer, good food, acts of kindness and compassion that he noticed with outsized gratitude, and the lasting friendships he made after coming to the United States.

Upon immigrating to the U.S., Isaac first settled in Patterson, New Jersey where he joined the US Army in hopes of getting an education. After his military service, he moved to Los Angeles where, through employment, he learned how to upholster furniture. Eventually, he settled in the Bay Area where he started his own upholstery business, played soccer, and was an assistant coach for the Hakoach soccer team. He met and married Denise Dakin and lived in the Richmond District of San Francisco with their son, Philip. Isaac and Denise started a gourmet food line called B and K Gourmet which sold at local retailers such as Neiman Marcus. Some years after Denise’s death, Isaac married Sue Jones. They resided in San Rafael, California, until her death in 2018.

Isaac is survived by his son, Philip, two grandchildren, and the great many lives he touched and people he cared about. He led an extraordinary life and will be remembered for his fierce, unstoppable spirit and strong will. Isaac was the ultimate survivor. Per his wishes, he will be buried at the Home of Peace Cemetery next to his first wife, Denise.

Many thanks to Café by the Bay, SFVA, Brian Brown at JFCS, Rhoda Goldman Plaza, and the Negoesco Family, especially Steve and Steve Jr.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, and/or the Steve Negoesco Soccer Fund at USF.