The Center for Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Education of North Carolina 
Holocaust Speakers Bureau 

Speaker Biographies



A child of two Holocaust survivors Shelly Bleiweiss grew up in Houston, Texas, the oldest of three children.  His parents were both from Poland, and survived using false identities as non-Jews. 

A retired clinical social worker and mental health counselor, Shelly has taught about the Holocaust for over 15 years, and spent five years as a docent at the Houston Holocaust Museum before moving to North Carolina in 2014.  He lives in Wake Forest with his wife and two adopted dogs, and is a member of the North Carolina Holocaust Council, and the Holocaust Speakers Bureau.

Shelly was one of the mental health counselors for the 2002 week-long March of the Living trip to Poland, accompanying several thousand high school age students as they explored the remnants of Jewish life in Poland and toured a number of death camps.  In 2004, Shelly was invited to participate in a two-week seminar at Yad Vashem, the world’s premier Holocaust center in Jerusalem, on “Teaching the Holocaust”.

Since arriving in North Carolina in June 2014, Shelly has talked about the Holocaust to hundreds of students in different communities around North Carolina.  He has also talked to church and community civic groups, and teaches a course on the Holocaust for the Adult Education program at Temple Beth Or in Raleigh. 

Shelly likes to share: his parents’ stories of how they met, fell in love, and survived individually in the open as non-Jews; his experience visiting Poland; and what it was like growing up “in the shadow of the Holocaust”.  Shelly can also provide a basic overview of the events of the Holocaust, a look at how and why the Holocaust happened, and discuss why it is important to continue studying the Holocaust today.  Shelly focuses his presentation on the needs of the audience and prefers to have an interactive and lively dialogue with them.  Please contact Shelly directly via email:  shellybmsw@gmail.com

Courtney Doi

Courtney Doi is the granddaughter (often referred to as a "3G") of a Holocaust survivor. Her grandmother, Judith Klein, the youngest of six children, left Berlin, Germany on the Kindertransport in December 1938 just after Kristallnacht. Judith lived with a foster family in the English countryside to avoid heavy bombing in the city. Judith’s father, two aunts, and two of her siblings died in concentration camps. One of Judith's siblings survived internment at the Theresienstadt concentration camp/ghetto, also known as Terezin.

Courtney and "Grandma Judith" visited Berlin in 2001 and 2005 where they visited her family's houses and memorials dedicated to lost relatives and attended a Nazi reparations case. Judith passed away in 2016, and Courtney inherited 30 years of her personal journals and essays. These writings address both childhood experiences from the war and the contrasting feelings of guilt and luck many survivors encountered. Courtney enjoys incorporating short reflective writing assignments into her presentations using her grandmother's writings.

Courtney will tailor her presentation to address important topics such as: the Kindertransport and the German Jewish refugee experience including why Jews did not leave Germany. She is available to speak to groups of all ages.
Courtney is an English instructor at Alamance Community College. Please contact Courtney directly by email to arrange a presentation: courtneydoi@yahoo.com


Born in the Netherlands, Renée Fink went into hiding at the age of four. She was fortunate in being able to stay with a Catholic Dutch family until after the war ended, when she was eight. Reunited with her grandmother,  they lived in another Dutch town until she came to the U.S. with her grandmother in 1948. Sadly, Renee and her grandmother were unable to live together, and she was sent to yet another family in the Adirondack mountains.

Although Renée had to live in an occupied and heavily bombed part of Holland during World War II, she shares with students why those times turned out to be her best years until she married. In her talks, Renée likes to stress the resistance, goodness, and courage of people in those times and why those traits remain so important. When speaking to schoolchildren, she shares a DVD created by the Holocaust Speaker’s Bureau of Chapel Hill, NC, that provides a good overview of the Holocaust and deals specifically with what was happening in Holland and with Renée.

Renée has spoken to students from fifth grade through university as well as to adult groups. She has been the keynote speaker at the North Carolina Council on the Holocaust’s annual commemoration and the Catawba Valley Interfaith Council. Renee has spoken at Duke University, the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, and community colleges in various NC counties, women’s groups, church groups, retirement communities and more. Renee is often invited to address educators at teacher symposia and workshops. She has been the featured guest on UNC TV and WUNC radio (the State of Things). Home schooled children and their parents invite Renee to speak regularly. At the end of April 2017, Renee will be visiting Washington DC and addressing federal employees at a Yom Hashoah commemoration.

Click here to view a video of Renée's story. The North Carolina Civic Education Consortium has developed a lesson plan based the video: Survival and Resistance: Hidden Children of the Holocaust. Please contact Renee directly by email to arrange a presentation: Refink58@gmail.com


Sharon Halperin is the daughter of two Holocaust survivors from Poland and Latvia. Her mother survived the war by living in the forests of Poland. Her father escaped from the Riga (Latvia) Ghetto when his unit was tasked with digging ditches in a nearby forest. Both of her parents fled eastward as the war progressed and met in Russia, where they married. At the end of the war, they lived in several Displaced Persons Camps in Germany. In 1946, they immigrated to the United States. Sharon has worked on annual Holocaust commemorative services and events for over 30 years and has taught mini-courses that focus on lessons of the Holocaust, the use and abuse of power, resistance and rescue, and the role of personal responsibility.  Sharon is happy to speak to groups of all ages about her parents’ experiences during the war in Poland, Latvia and Russia. She includes the topics of Displaced Persons Camps and Immigration to the United States. Please contact Sharon directly by email:  sharonhalperin88@gmail.com


Bonnie Hauser is the daughter of Rebecca Hauser, a Holocaust survivor from Ioannina, Greece. In 1944, Rebecca and her family and the entire Jewish community of Ioannina were deported to Auschwitz.  She was later transferred to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp complex. As Allied and Soviet forces advanced into Germany in late 1944 and early 1945, Bergen-Belsen became a collection camp for thousands of Jewish prisoners evacuated from camps closer to the front. The arrival of thousands of new prisoners, many of them survivors of forced evacuations on foot, overwhelmed the meager resources of the camp. In April, 1945 British forces liberated the camp. Rebecca is the only survivor from her family. Rebecca’s testimony is captured in our video library.

During the years of jointly presenting with her mother, Bonnie compiled photos and other materials that capture her mother’s gripping story of survival.  Since Rebecca retired from speaking in 2014, Bonnie has continued to share Rebecca’s story with groups. She supplements her talk with segments of her mother’s video testimony and a PowerPoint presentation. Please contact Bonnie directly via email: bahauser@aol.com


Diane B. Kunz is the daughter of two Holocaust survivors. Her mother was in the Lodz ghetto and Auschwitz, where her first husband was also murdered, and was then sent to a Gross Rosen satellite camp in Czechoslovakia. Her father was in the Kovno ghetto and Dachau. Her parents met and were married in the German DP camp of Feldafing, near Munich, and emigrated to the United States in 1949. Diane graduated from Barnard College and Cornell University Law School and also attended Columbia University Law School. She is also a diplomatic historian with degrees from Oxford University and Yale University and taught history for many years at Yale University and Columbia University. Her prize-winning books deal with twentieth century diplomatic history. For the last decade, Diane has run the Center for Adoption Policy, which breaks down barriers to international and domestic adoption. Diane is happy to speak to students and organizations. Please contact Diane directly to arrange a presentation: dbkunz18@gmail.com


Deborah Long’s mother was in the Lodz Ghetto, Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, and Salzwadel death/concentration camps. Her father survived the Bor death march and Flossenberg, Buchenwald, and Dora Nordhausen concentration camps. Deborah has been researching her family history and searching for surviving family members for more than 50 years. Her research at the beginning of 2009 led to the shocking discovery of family artifacts that compelled her to visit her ancestral villages as well as Germany to understand her parents’ Holocaust history. Deborah is a professional educator, though typically her audiences are licensed professionals. She has written more than 20 books, including a memoir about growing up as a child of survivors titled First Hitler, Then Your Father, and Now You.

In presentations, Deborah reviews her parents' Holocaust histories, focusing on the Lodz Ghetto, Auschwitz, and the Bor death march. Deborah has spoken to the International Association of Jewish Genealogy Societies, the Horace Williams Historical Society, Jordan High School, numerous public schools, and provided programs for the Jewish Federation.  Please contact Deborah directly by email:  debbietheteacher@gmail.com


Rose Mills is the daughter of two Holocaust survivors from Berlin, Germany.  Her parents had been married only two years before her mother was forced to flee Nazi Germany and escape to London in 1938.  At the outbreak of World War II, her father, who was delayed in following her mother to England, lost his chance to flee Germany. He eventually became a slave factory laborer but later escaped and hid in a tool shack for two years until he was liberated by the Russians in 1945.  Her parents were finally reunited in the US after a seven-year separation and settled in Chicago, where Rose was born and raised.  Rose is happy to speak to groups of all ages about her parents’ experiences during the war in Germany and in England.  Please contact Rose directly at:  rmills1@bellsouth.net


Eric Muller is the son and grandson of German Jewish refugees from the Nazis. He grew up hearing a great deal about his family’s experiences of mounting persecution in the Germany of the 1930s, of his father’s narrow escape from a noose-wielding band of Hitler Youth in Frankfurt, of his grandfather’s imprisonment at Buchenwald after Kristallnacht, and of the family’s escape into Switzerland in the final days of 1938. He also grew up hearing very, very little about the one who didn’t get out – his grandfather’s brother Leopold, who was deported from Germany in April of 1942 and met his end soon thereafter somewhere in Poland, very likely at the death camp Sobibor. As an adult he has looked for all of the scant traces of his great-uncle’s life and death, and has been surprised by how many such traces remain.

Eric grew up in southern New Jersey and has been a professor at the UNC School of Law since 1998. He is one of the leading national experts on the removal and imprisonment of Japanese Americans in the United States during World War II. He lives in Chapel Hill with his wife Leslie Branden-Muller, a clinical psychologist, and, when they’re home from college, their two daughters Abby and Nina. Please contact Eric directly to arrange a presentation: eric.muller@gmail.com


Peter Stein was born in 1936 in Prague, Czechoslovakia to a Jewish father and a Catholic mother, just two years before Nazi occupation. His father was forced into slave labor and later deported to Terezin (Theresienstadt), a work and death camp, and managed to survive, but his family of nine were all killed. During the war, Peter attended a school where photos of Adolf Hitler and the German flag were displayed in every classroom. He dealt with antisemitism and lived through air raid drills and bombings by Allied aircraft. Peter arrived in New York Harbor with his mother on the night Harry Truman upset Thomas Dewey in the 1948 presidential election. Peter’s father eventually joined the family after the Communists finally allowed him to leave Prague. Peter attended public schools in New York, learned English, graduated from the City College of New York, and earned his Ph.D. in sociology from Princeton University. For a number of years, he worked as Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Holocaust and Genocide Studies Center at William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey. He taught courses on the Holocaust and developed workshops for teachers and community members. For the past three years, Peter has served as an Associate Director for Aging Workforce Initiatives at the UNC-Chapel Hill Institute on Aging. Click here to view a video of Peter's story.

Peter speaks to elementary, middle, and high school students about his childhood experiences in Prague and about the history of the Holocaust in Europe. He also presents at teacher workshops sponsored by the North Carolina Council on the Holocaust. Peter is available to meet with teachers and administrators to explore strategies for teaching genocide and the Holocaust in schools. Please contact Peter directly by email: steinpeterj@gmail.com 

John Wurzelmann

​John Wurzelmann is a physician who lives in Chapel Hill. His parents were among the 5%–10% of Polish Jews who survived WW II. His mother, Sarah, was born in 1930 in the Polish shtetl of Nowogrodek. After the Soviet invasion in 1939, she was deported to Achinsk, Siberia, where she spent the duration of the war. She was fortunate in that most of the 6500 Jews of Nowogrodek were murdered by the Nazis, between June and December of 1941.  John’s father, Ludwig, was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1926. During the war, he worked as a slave laborer in Adampol, Poland. He escaped to the nearby Skoridnica forest in 1942 and fought the Nazis as a member of a Jewish partisan group led by Yechiel Grinspan. After “liberation” in 1944, he was impressed into the Red Army and forced to serve in the notorious Shtrafnoy Battalion.  He escaped, hiding in equipment transport trains over several weeks, eventually returning to the town of Wlodowa, where he learned that his family had perished in the extermination factory of Sobibor.  Facing continued violence against Jews in post-war Poland, he fled to occupied Germany, where he spent 2 years in a Displaced Persons Camp before eventually emigrating to Israel, then Canada, and the United States, where at last he found peace.

John has written and published several stories about his parents’ survival. He has spoken before groups, large and small, in his roles as pharmaceutical industry professional and adjunct faculty at the University of North Carolina. John’s presentation is best suited for university students and adults. Please contact John directly to discuss a speaking engagement at wurzelma@gmail.com

​2Gs and 3Gs Needed!

The Holocaust Speakers Bureau (a component of the Center for Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Education of NC, Inc.) seeks children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors and concentration camp liberators (known as 2Gs and 3Gs) who would be willing to visit schools and organizations.Our aging speakers are finding it increasingly more difficult to travel and speak. We hope to expand our speaking network to include 2Gs and 3Gs.

Please contact Sharon Halperin at 919-933-9089 or 
sharonhalperin88@gmail.com if you are interested or would like more information.