12th Holocaust Memorial Lecture
"An Evening with Holocaust Survivor Gerda Weissmann Klein"
Delivered: Monday, September 21, 2009
Gerda Weissmann’s life changed forever in 1939 when, during her fifteenth year, German troops invaded her home in Beilsko, Poland. Both Gerda and her brother Arthur were separated from their parents and sent to slave-labor camps.
The horror of that day remained forever ingrained in Gerda’s memory - it was the last time she would ever see her family. Never losing hope, Gerda’s resilience supported her through three successive years in slave-labor camps and a 350-mile forced death-march in which 2,000 women were subjected to exposure, starvation, and arbitrary execution.
Throughout, Gerda never lost the will to survive. In 1945, she is rescued at the point of starvation by her future husband, Kurt Kelin, and American intelligence officer.
Gerda Weissmann’s account of living through the Holocaust is documented in her autobiography, All But My Life and in the film, One Survivor Remembers (available from the Cohen Center).