Marlene Appley was forced to flee her home in the Ore Mountains of Czechoslovakia in September 1938. Born in 1925, Marlene and her four siblings lived a privileged lifestyle, with private tutors, chauffeur and maids. She recalls listening to the radio when the program was interrupted by a threatening speech by Hitler. She turned to her sister and said: "I guess we will never be grownups.” After Neville Chamberlain awarded part of Czechoslovakia (the Sudetenland) to Hitler in an appeasement attempt, Marlene's family decided to leave their home. Marlene, now 13 years old, was instructed to pack a small suitcase with some cherished belongings and walk with her family, unobtrusively and in small groups, to the nearest railway station to flee to Prague. In June 1939, the family boarded another train that took them across Germany to freedom. She recalls the German police and the SS repeatedly entering their train compartment with questions and threats of detaining them. The family arrived safely in New York, less than a month before Hitler invaded Poland and World War II started.
After the war, Marlene joined a group of young Americans who went to Israel to build a homeland for the survivors of the Holocaust. Marlene participated in building a kibbutz in the Galilee (northern Israel) that still exists today. Marlene now resides in Chapel Hill and is a retired professor of anatomy and physiology. She is happy to speak with students ranging from grade 5 through graduate school. She needs transportation to get to speaking venues. Marlene's email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
It is with deep sadness that we mourn the death of Rabbi Frank Fischer who passed away on November 19, 2018.
Rabbi Fischer, a longtime member of the Holocaust Speakers Bureau, was a survivor from Germany.
Fortunate to have been sponsored by a relative in the United States, young Frank (8 years old), his parents and an older sister left Germany in 1938 as immigration was slowed to a near trickle. (Between 1933 and 1945, the United States took in only 132,000 Jewish refugees, only 10 percent of the quota allowed by law. Rabbi Fischer was one of the lucky ones.)
Before he fled Germany with his family, Rabbi Fischer saw, first-hand, the destruction and savagery of Kristalnacht on November 9, 1938. His presentations to students recounted the terror of that night and the subsequent hardships endured when he and his family started their new lives in the United States. Rabbi Fischer recounted his life in a Lower East Side tenement, including the difficulties his parents experienced acclimating to a new language, and trying to resurrect his father’s medical career. Stories of his time in elementary school, sitting in the back row of a 3rd grade classroom, not knowing any English, always fascinated students and faculty.
Students stood in long lines following Rabbi Fischer’s talks. They waited patiently to shake his hand or view, up-close, the teddy bear he brought from Germany and kept throughout his lifetime.
Rabbi Fischer never failed to end a presentation with a set of instructions: to take a stand against injustice and to treat all human beings with respect and dignity.
We are grateful for Rabbi Fischer’s stories and wise counsel. May his memory be for a blessing.
Click on this link to hear Rabbi Fischer’s presentation at a panel discussion at the University of North Carolina – Greensboro in April 2016.
Esther was 15 years old when World War II started in Poland (September 1939). After the German invasion and new laws against the Jews were invoked, Esther's family left their hometown of Lodz, the second largest city in Poland, in hopes of having a better chance of surviving the war in a small town. Esther's family suffered the indignities of ghetto life, painful discrimination, and the imprisonment of her father in a labor camp. Esther found shelter with a Catholic family, where she was hidden for 22 months along with the Lederman family. Her father was liberated from Buchenwald concentration camp, but Esther's mother and sister were killed in Treblinka. Esther married in 1946. Their son was born in Munich in 1948, and the family came to the U.S. in 1949.
Esther has provided programs to teachers, students and civic organizations in North Carolina and Florida. She has spoken to private and public school children, universities, military bases, and houses of worship. Click here to view a video of Esther's story. Please email Esther if you wish to arrange for an interview by phone or in person: email@example.com
Hal H. Myers was born in Karlsruhe, Germany in 1930. He was deported to Camp de Gurs in southern France in 1940, when he was ten years old. Rescued by the Quakers, Hal came to America with his brother in October 1941 and lived in Ohio until 2009, when he moved to North Carolina.
Hal has spoken at middle and high schools, houses of worship, annual commemorations of the Holocaust, and teacher conventions on such topics as: the story of his rescue from Camp de Gurs by the Quakers; the story of 1,000 unaccompanied children to the United States in 1935-45; the reunion in Copenhagen in 2001 of children rescued from Camp de Gurs; his childhood in Germany and southern France; the memoir of the woman who rescued him; the history of the Holocaust; recent history of Israel; and the challenges of negotiating peace there. Click here to view a video of Hal's story. Hal is no longer speaking to groups. Please email Nora Myers if interested in a private interview: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 moved to Washington, DC in April 2018. Although he no longer lives in the Chapel Hill area, Peter has graciously agreed to travel here upon special request by educators. Peter speaks to elementary, middle, and high school students about his childhood experiences in Prague and about the history of the Holocaust in Europe. Please contact Peter directly by email: email@example.com.
An Emeritus Holocaust Speaker refers to a survivor or refugee who was part of the original group of speakers for the Holocaust Speakers Bureau. Individuals who are still available to give presentations are currently arranging their own speaking engagements. If you are interested in hosting any of the emeritus speakers, you are welcome to contact them directly to check their availability. Transportation, in most cases, will need to be provided.