Irvin Stern was born in 1927 in Strâmtura, Transylvania, located in central Romania. Transylvania’s long and complex history with political instability made Stern’s experience growing up in his small village a particularly trying one. Transylvania was under Romanian rule at the time of his birth, but the country struggled with economic depression due to an agricultural crisis that broke out in 1929. Seeking for a way to repair the damage, Romania signed a ten-year “scheme” with Germany in 1939 in exchange for greater economic development. Control over Transylvania was transferred to Hungary in 1940, when Stern was thirteen years old. Four years later, after German troops occupied Hungary, Hungarian officials were ordered to deport Transylvanian Jews. Irvin and his family, along with thousands of other Jews, were put into a ghetto and later deported to Auschwitz. Irvin is the only member of his immediate family to survive the Holocaust.