Between 1940 and 1945, Steve Ross survived 10 concentration camps. Decades later, he’s known in Boston for his efforts to help at-risk teenagers and, in 1995, founding the New England Holocaust Memorial. Now, Ross’s inspiring story will be the focus of a book being penned by former South Boston state representative Brian Wallace and attorney Glenn Frank. Hachette Book Group recently acquired rights to the book.
“His son, [former city councilor] Mike [Ross] says, ‘My dad is a force of nature,’ ” Wallace said. “That’s the absolute truth.”
Born Szmulek Rozental in Poland, Ross was liberated from the Dachau concentration camp by American troops in 1945 and brought to a Jewish orphanage in Mattapan three years later. (His exact age is unclear — when asked about his father’s age, his son said it’s “actually a complicated answer.”) Illiterate when he arrived in the US, Ross went on to receive three college degrees and work with underprivileged youth in the city for more than 40 years.
One of those young people was Wallace, who met Ross as a teenager in 1967. Wallace said he and his friends in South Boston had no plans to attend college until they met Ross, who took it upon himself to help them, even driving them to Boston College High School for their college entrance exams.
Though the book will encompass Ross’s horrific experiences during the Holocaust, his son, who’s writing an introduction, said it will also capture his father’s optimistic spirit.
“It’s a story about the darkest chapter in human history,” the younger Ross said, “but also one that says every act of bravery and defiance, no matter how small, can inspire generations to come.”