Brittany ComakFeb 26, 2018, 1:12 amFeb 26, 2018, 3:49 pm

Westbury man who survived Holocaust celebrates 100th birthday

When the Russians liberated his work camp, Max Fontak weighed just 80 pounds


WESTBURY — A Long Island Holocaust survivor celebrated his 100th birthday on Sunday, giving aspiring centenarians the secret to a long life.

“Try to live a life,” Max Fontak said. “Don't eat too much and exercise a lot. Exercise, exercise, exercise."

For much of the Westbury native’s youth, his future was completely uncertain. Once the Nazi's invaded Poland, he landed in a Polish ghetto for three years. After living in the ghetto, Fontak was moved to a work camp to aid the German war effort, but sadly most of his family was sent to their deaths at Auschwitz. When his camp was liberated by the Russians in 1945, he weighed just 80 pounds.

"This whole hullaballoo is about the fact that people have to remember that the Holocaust did happen. That's what today is about: Remembering the past and hoping the future does not repeat itself over and over again," Fontak’s daughter, Gloria Jacobson, said.

Now at 100, Fontak and his family are looking back at his life.

The Holocaust survivor married another survivor after the war, and they immigrated to Brooklyn where they had two children, five grandchildren, and a great-grandchild.

"The best life is I've got my family with me and my new arrival, my great-grandson. This keeps me alive," Fontak said.

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