One Survivor Remembers
A Talk By Gerda Weissmann Klein
Thu, November 5, 2009 | Texas Hillel, 2105 San Antonio St.
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
For years author, historian, and speaker, Gerda Weissmann Klein has captivated audiences worldwide with her powerful messages of hope, inspiration, love and humanity. In her speeches and books, Klein draws from her wealth of life experiences: from surviving the holocaust, meeting her future husband on the day of her liberation, to her journey to the United States, accepting an Oscar for a documentary based on her life, and her constant fight to promote tolerance and fight hunger.
In 1939, 15 year-old Gerda Weissmann’s life would change forever as German troops invaded her home in Beilsko, Poland. This day would be forever ingrained in Gerda’s memory, as it was the last time she would ever see her family. Never losing hope, Klein would spend the next three years in a succession of slave-labor camps, until she was forced to walk in a 350-mile death march in which 2,000 women were subjected to exposure, starvation, and arbitrary execution. Despite such atrocities, Klein never lost the will to survive. Klein’s account of living through the Holocaust is documented in her classic autobiography, All But My Life, in print for 46 years in 57 editions. It was the foundation for the Oscar Winning HBO Documentary One Survivor Remembers.
One of the most remarkable chapters in Gerda’s life began when her future husband, Kurt Klein, an American intelligence officer, liberated her. Their story of meeting and life together has been featured on numerous television shows including Oprah, 60 Minutes and CBS Sunday Morning. A book of their letters to one another The Hours After, is a poignant collection of actual correspondence between Gerda and Kurt Klein following the war.
In 2004 Klein released, A Boring Evening at Home (dedicated to her late husband). The book offers glimpses into her life, and into the thoughts that have always vindicated her belief that the most treasured place on earth is home, and that the most beautiful and desirable aim for people is to spend “a boring evening” there with family.
The Kleins’ story is portrayed in the film Testimony, a permanent exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. In June 1997, President Clinton appointed Klein to the council of the Holocaust Museum. The 1995 HBO documentary, One Survivor Remembers, in which Gerda Klein recounts some of her wartime experiences, won a TV Emmy Award, two Cable Ace Awards, and an Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Klein’s constant striving for the preservation of human rights and dignity has earned her seven Doctorates of Humane Letters, along with countless other awards. In 1998 along with her late husband, Kurt Klein, she lent her name to help establish the Gerda and Kurt Klein Foundation (www.kleinfoundation.org). Dedicated to educating our youth and easing human suffering wherever it maybe, Gerda has worked tirelessly to promote tolerance, fight violence, and to lessen prejudice and encourage community service focused on local hunger relief. As a public non-profit, this small but most important Foundation relies upon contributions and grants in order to accomplish its mission.
In October 2003 and again in 2005 and 2007, The Klein Foundation partnered with TIME Classroom to create a unique multimedia educational kit sent to almost 2 million high school students across the country entitled: “Stand Up, Speak Out, Lend a Hand.” This special school supplement shares the Kleins’ experiences as the basis to teach students about the importance of respect, responsibility and acceptance of differences.
In the Fall 2005 a significant and exciting partnership was created between the Klein Foundation and Southern Poverty Law Center/Teaching Tolerance addressing the issues of anti-Semitism and intolerance in its larger context through the creation of a unique educational kit entitled: “One Survivor Remembers”. To date, there have been over 110,000 requests for this kit in less than 4 years. This project is available FREE to every school in the country upon request. The Klein Foundation’s two educational programs were nominated as one of four finalists for outstanding student publications from the prestigious Educational Publishers Association of America in June 2004 (Stand Up, Speak Out Lend a Hand) and June 2006 (One Survivor Remembers).