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Holocaust Remembrance Day
April 7, 2021 @ 3:30 pm
Join us to hear survivors’ stories first hand. Moderated by Lisa GOLDIN Rabinowicz ’59, the panelists are Susanne KLEJMAN Bennet ’55, Joan L. KENT Finkelstein ’54, Eve KANNER Kugler Jan. ’49, and Edith TENNENBAUM Shapiro ’52, M.D.
We will hear a short discussion by the panelists, and then we will break into smaller groups to spend some time with one of the survivors to get more details on her stories. Then we will switch, so everyone will have a chance to spend time with two survivors. Come and hear these stories first hand, and keep remembering.
Moderator: Lisa GOLDIN Rabinowicz ’59
Lisa has an Honors Degree in Linguistics and Anthropology, Univ of London, work on masters of Mass Communications. Bachelor of Science, University of Florida. She worked in TV news, and now performs and participates in playreading.
She was born in Uzbekistan after her parents escaped from a shtetyl in Bela Rus Poland. After World War II, she was taken to DP-Displaced Persons- in Germany.
She arrived in America on the last passenger voyage of USN ship, Ernie Pyle, a wonderful future and voyage for her small surviving family. She is a very grateful immigrant to the USA.
Susanne KLEJMAN Bennet ’55
I was born in 1938 in Warsaw, the year before the Germans invaded Poland. In 1940 my family was forced into the Warsaw Ghetto. Three generations of my family, from a baby of 4 months through grandparents in their 60s were murdered in the Ghetto and in the gas chambers of the Treblinka extermination camp. I and my parents, separated during part of the war, survived to eventually come to the United States in 1950 and begin a new life.
Joan L. KENT Finkelstein ’54, Ph.D.
I arrived in NYC as a four-year-old in February 1941 completing an epic ten-month journey from Warsaw, Poland, with a 40-day voyage aboard an American ship from India.
With a close family of storytellers and a large treasure trove of letters, photographs, and documents (including false papers) retrieved by my parents from their nine steamer trunks, I reconstructed and discovered how they decided and then were actually able to leave Nazi-occupied Poland. Traveling through Italy and the Middle East, we obtained immigration visas for America, and finally reached American soil before their rapid expiration. Beyond the narrative of events, my story also underlines those elements of luck, luck again, resilience, and determination that underlie the survival of all of us who can now tell them.
strong>Eve KANNER Kugler Jan. ’49
I was born in Halle an der Saale, [East] Germany. If you have trouble locating it, look for Magdeburg or Leipzig.
My family, parents, older sister Ruth, younger sister Lea and I went on waiting list for visas to Palestine in 1935 and were still waiting on Kristallnacht, Nov. 9-10, 1938 when Nazis created havoc in our apartment, arrested my father and sent him to Buchenwald. The windows of his department store were smashed and our synagogue was torched. Based on a forged visa for France my father was released from Buchenwald after six weeks. Mother and children escaped to France in June 1939.
With outbreak of World War II, France interned my father; my mother placed us in a Jewish children’s home near Paris where she became a cook. When France surrendered, we were evacuated to a children’s home near Limoges controlled by Vichi France. In 1941 Ruth and I joined a small Kindertransport to NY where we became foster children. With the roundup of Jews in 1942 the Resistance hid Lea. My parents survived in French concentration camps. The family was reunited in New York in 1947 after I became a Hunter student.
Edith TENNENBAUM Shapiro ’52, M.D.
I was born in Zloczow in the province Galicja in Poland. Since the end of WWII, the city has been renamed Zolochev and is now in the Ukraine.
In 1939, eighty years ago, when I was 4 years old, Germany and the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact that led to their invading Poland from East and West simultaneously. We were invaded by the Russians. My family was on the enemy list because my grandfather owned a factory and both my parents were lawyers. We lost our home and many possessions, grandfather lost the factory, and we lived under the threat of deportation to Siberia that lead to my grandparents escaping to another city, separating the family. Father was allowed to work in the factory which played a significant role in our survival under the subsequent German occupation. The pact unravelled in two years, Germans drove out the Russians and invaded Zloczow. The German occupation was marked by successive akzions, pogroms when Jews were hunted, allegedly for deportation to work camps but it became clear that these were death camps. A ghetto was formed. Eventually Zloczow was declared Judenrein, free from Jews.
We had hidden in the factory and in bunkers and cellars during the pogroms. At some point it became known that while some adults did work in the camps, children were murdered. People began to try to hide the children. A young couple agreed to take me but not my sister who they said looked more Jewish. I ran away to my parents. I was around 7-8 years old at the time.
After that the family, except for my paternal grandparents, succeeded in staying together. After more episodes, more plans that went awry we ended up in hiding with Polish and Ukrainian acquaintances.
My paternal grandparents perished, grandmother from typhus. Grandfather committed suicide on the way to a camp. I learned after the war that my parents were supplied with cyanide for use if we were “caught”.
Ending on a happier note, the young couple who offered to shelter me turned out to be Jews who were “passing”.