One of Youngstown’s last living Holocaust survivors dies
By Jessica Hardin
With the death at home Saturday of 89-year-old Henry Kinast, the group of living Holocaust survivors in the Mahoning Valley is nearly gone.
But if the Kinast family is any indication, the critical stories of this dwindling population will be preserved.
At the home of Henry’s son Jerry, Henry’s legacy is everywhere.
It hangs on the wall, where a shadowbox displays the hat young Henry wore at Buchenwald. His legacy bounded around Jerry’s home Tuesday night in the form of his eight great-grandchildren.
Jerry’s father was liberated from the Buchenwald concentration camp in 1945 at age 15.
Newly married and with an infant daughter in tow, he moved to the United States in 1954.
The family relocated to Youngstown from Pittsburgh when Henry got a job at Benada Aluminum. In 1958, he founded what would become PSK Steel, which his children run today.
“He was so inclusive of people when they would immigrate here. ... The people [who] worked in the factory were people like him. When he came to America, he didn’t speak the language and didn’t have much money. He welcomed them into the community,” said Henry’s granddaughter Lindsey Shapiro.
While he was proud of his successful business, his legacy is his family.
“His prized accomplishment was the fact that he survived. He had four children, 14 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren,” said Jerry Kinast.
His children don’t remember discussing their father’s experience surviving the Holocaust until they had children.
“As we had kids, they were curious. [Henry] wanted to make sure [the Holocaust] wasn’t forgotten and that it wouldn’t happen again, not just for Jews,” said Henry’s daughter Terri Anderson.
Their favorite story Henry told was his reunion with his father after being liberated from Buchenwald.
Henry had been separated from his father and brother at the concentration camp and was sent to an orphanage.
“The morning he was supposed to leave [for France with the orphanage], his father found him and woke him up. He always said he thought he was dreaming,” Lindsey said, as her eyes filled with tears.
Stories of Henry’s life will live on in family lore, in the photo album of his family’s 2007 trip to Israel and in his interview with Steven Spielberg, which was part of Spielberg’s research for “Schindler’s List,” the 1993 film directed and co-produced by Spielberg.
“He created an amazing legacy for our family. ... He held us all together,” said Lindsey.
Henry’s great-grandson Miles Sandler, 7, said it in his own way: “He was the middle.”