Yom Hashoa: Holocause remembrance: Never Forget! Isacc Klein’s story


Jewish prisoners being deported from the Krakó...

Jewish prisoners being deported from the Kraków Ghetto. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As time goes on, the Holocaust survivors are dying out.  Since this month we commemorate them, I think we owe a responsibility to retell their stories.

Recently, I visited the Holocaust Museum in Miami. A Holocaust survivor, Isaac Klein,was telling his personal story and answering questions.

Stern started out by describing his family life before the Holocaust. His parent’s names were Simon and Pepi Klein. His twin brother Tsvi and him were the eldest of eight children. Before 1938, the family were farmers, and led a normal happy life.

When the Germans took over Czechoslovakia in 1938, the family’s farmland was taken away, and their citizenship revoked. Isaac and his family were deported to Poland.

After a few years they were allowed to return to Czechoslovakia where they worked under Hungarian military officials doing hard labor.

In 1944, their luck ran out. They were put on cattle cars, and were transported to a concentration camp in Auschwitz-Birkenaus. .

Dr. Josef Mengele, known as the “Doctor of Death”,  kept the boys in D-lager camp with other sets of twins. He did experiments on them. Most of them were done under anesthesia, so Klein doesn’t remember the specifics.

By the end of March 1944, the Germans knew the Russians were close, so they forced the prisoners on a death march. The destination was Melk, Austria. Somehow Isaac and his brother both survived. On the march they received no food, water, or shelter.

In 1945, they were liberated by the Americans, but that wasn’t the end of Klein’s story. His bother and him went back home to find any relatives, but there weren’t any left.

They both decided to emigrate to Israel. They were smuggled on a boat to Haifa. After the British captured the boat, they were held in a detention camp for 8-10 months. They were finally released into the population.

He served in the Israeli army, navy and merchant marine.

In 1962, he moved to the United states, got married, and raised a family.

Four years ago, he took the path of  the March of the living dead with youngsters from all over the  world. He thought it was important for them to know about it.

“Who says there’s no life after death,” said Klein.

Klein still believes in God, and is grateful he survived.

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In honor of Yom Hashoa, a story of survival and triumph


Sundown marks the beginning of Yom HaShoah (Ho...

Sundown marks the beginning of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) in Israel as flags are at half-mast. Français : Drapeaux en berne le soir de Yom HaShoah (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yom Hashoa is a day where we commemorate Holocaust survivors. It usually occurs around April.

Here the story of a woman, Fran, who went through the Holocaust, but didn’t let it defeat her.

Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Memorial Day, has a special meaning for a vibrant woman. Her childhood was spent hiding from the Nazis during WWII.

Today, Fran leads a fulfilling life. This busy wife, mother, and grandmother has a busy career in sales.  In addition, she finds time to do volunteer work.

Fran remembers living in France during World War II. She lived with her parents, and sister, Gloria, in a two bedroom apartment. “I remember the apartment. My mother was always amazed at how much I could remember, but they were not good memories,” said Fran.

When Fran was a small child, there was a knock at their door in the middle of the night.  She remembers her father being taken away by French citizens sympathetic to the Nazis. She never saw him again. Many years later, she discovered that he died in Auschwitz, a German Concentration Camp.

At first, the men were the only ones taken away. No one believed that people would arrest and kill women and children too.

Fran’s mother hoped that they could continue living in their home. Several days after her father was taken, they returned to the apartment. “It was padlocked. All our possessions were gone,”  said Fran.

The two sisters, and her mother moved in with a Jewish friend, Berthe, who lived on the other side of Paris with her son, Armand.

Fortunately, there were non-Jewish  people who were willing to risk their lives for them.  The landlady of an apartment building distracted some soldiers when the family was hiding in a closet.  A neighbor pretended the children were his own, so they wouldn’t be taken away by Nazis.

Fran remembers her mother reassuring them. “She never wanted us to be frightened,” said Fran.

Soon, things became so dangerous that Fran’s mother hid in the forest with others. The girls were placed in non-Jewish homes in the French countryside. Fran remembers her mother trying to see the girls at night. Sometimes, she would give the foster families a little money so the girls could have more food to eat. “We sometimes lived on one or two pieces of bread a day,” Fran recalled.

As a result of poor living conditions,  Fran contracted childhood tuberculosis. She stayed in a TB sanitarium run by Catholic nuns. “The nuns were wonderful to me,” Fran said. Consequently, Fran adopted Catholicism into her life.

The war wasn’t officially  over for Fran until the family was reunited, and moved back to their two room apartment.

Fran wanted to attend church, and her mother would say to her, “Go ahead because wherever you go, God will hear you. Pray that your father comes back… Someday you will be a Jew again.”

Unfortunately, her mother became ill, and died. Fran was devastated.

When Fran was eleven and her sister twelve, the girls came to America by boat. “The struggle didn’t end when we landed in America,” said Fran. She was shuttled between relatives and given away for adoption. The hardest obstacle she faced was being separated from her beloved sister.

After many years of struggle, Fran found happiness and stability with her husband and their four children. They have six grandchildren.

Her mother’s prophecy came true—Fran found her way back to Judaism.

There is much more to this story, and Fran tells it when she speaks to schools and organizations about the Holocaust.

The only tangible reminders she has of her early life are some photographs.

Fran still has a close relationship with her sister.  Although Fran’s life has been tumultuous, she is a happy person.

“ Tragedy becomes a part of you, but you can choose to be positive about life,” Fran explained.