Holocaust Survivors


Each year, I finish teaching the unit on Anne Frank by inviting local Holocaust survivors to share their memories with our classes. This sharing has the most profound effect on students. Many stay after class simply to hug the survivors to express their gratitude. Each survivor tells in his or her own way how they endured almost unbearable suffering as children. The gift of this very difficult sharing by these survivors testifies to their strength to somehow rise above that suffering. The most frequent comment students and former students share about hearing the survivors' stories is how much carrying these stories with them will help them get through the trauma of teenage years and the difficult times they'll experience as adults.

To arrange these presentations, I worked with the local office of the NCCJ organization and with Jewish Family Services.

Below, I've provided information on some the local survivors who have spoken to us. In the future, we plan to show videos here of these survivors telling their stories. I've also provided some links to other websites where you can read and see videos of other survivors sharing their experiences.

Elizabeth Seiden, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, shares her family's experiences with us

Note: Elizabeth Seiden shared her family's experiences and photos from her family's album. Please click here to view the photos and read a brief summary of her family's experiences.

Local Survivors

  • Alicia Appleman-Jurman: author of Alicia, My Story.

Click here to read a profile about her. Click here to go to a website dedicated to telling her story.

  • Alex Bauer: he credits his survival to finding an egg-sized potato in a farmer's field during labor at Buchenwald and a friend's getting shoes for him so that his feet didn't split in the snow. If he couldn't walk, he would have been sent to the infirmary where others would steal his food. and he would have starved to death.
  • Phyllis Mattson: she was sent to America in 1940, travelling alone by train at 12 to San Francisco. Her mother perished in the concentration camps. She shares her continuing wonder at the riches of our country.
  • Isaac Goldstein: Isaac speaks to our students because his grandchildren have attended our school. The cruel final act of his experience before his rescue involved witnessing the world's greatest ship disaster, the mistaken bombing by the British of concentration camp prisoners from Neuengamme who had been crammed on Thielbek and the Arcona liners in Lubeck Bay. This act killed 7,500 people. He was one of the 1,998 prisoners aboard the Athen which lay in the harbor and was not attacked. Click here to read more of this horrible tragedy.

Click here to read the Prologue to Survivor. Click here to read a summary of his experiences from the back cover of the book.

  • Marvin Bertleson: he was a concentration camp liberator. He shared his memories of the first camp he liberated. He had heard of a place where prisoners were held and so he and three friends decided to go ahead to see how they could help the prisoners. Instead, they found a field of emaciated dead bodies and a single well-fed inmate trustee who had stayed behind when the guards fled. He says that he continues to give these presentations to make sure that "this evil is never repeated".

  • Michael and Ruth Novice: Michael talked of living as a child from 1939-41 in the Warsaw ghetto. He remembers people attacking his mother to steal bread she carried in a shopping bag. She was attacked a second time when she hid the bread under her coat because the thieves realized she was carrying something valuable. He said that when friends saw the movie The Pianist which portrayed life in the ghetto, they would ask, "Michael, was life really like that?" He would always reply, "No, it was worse."

Michael Novice shows the class the concentration camp number tattooed on his arm.

Links to Holocaust Survivors' stories

Excellent links sites for other websites that have survivors' testimonies

Excellent links site for individual stories

The Links page has many more links to explore. Click here or on the "Links" button above to view them.

Created by James DeLong and Jon Erickson


Copyright @ annefrankwall.org 2004