WE, THE LIBERATED
Panel of Holocaust Survivors
A panel of Holocaust Survivors will discuss their moments of liberation.
Hedy Bohm was born in 1928, in Oradea, Transylvania, and was an only child to Ignacz, a master cabinet maker, and Erzsebet, a homemaker. In May of 1944, Hedy and her family were sent to the Oradea ghetto, and from there, she was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. She was then selected for forced work detail at an ammunition factory and shipped to Fallersleben, Germany in August 1944. Hedy was liberated by American forces in April 1945. Hedy returned to Romania, where she reunited with cousins, and married her husband, Imre. They were able to escape to Prague, where an aid organization arranged for this group of Hungarian orphans to obtain visas to Canada. They arrived in Halifax, Canada in August 1948. In 2015, Hedy was an eyewitness at the famous trial of Oskar Groening in Germany. Hedy speaks to student groups to inspire them to "rock the boat" and "make a difference," and to be continuously grateful for their family, education, and Canadian citizenship.
Pinchas Gutter was born in Lodz, Poland. Pinchas and his family were incarcerated in the Warsaw Ghetto, and subsequently sent to the death camp, Majdanek, where Pinchas' father, mother, and twin sister were murdered. Pinchas endured the slave work and horrors of various concentration camps, including Buchenwald. Near the end of the war, Pinchas was forced on a death march from Germany to Czechoslovakia, and barely survived. He was liberated by the Russians on May 8, 1945, and taken to Britain with other children. Pinchas later spent many years living in South Africa, and then immigrated to Canada where he continues to reside. Pinchas divides his time between speaking out against the Holocaust, volunteering as a chaplain, and serving as an honourary full-time Cantor in the Kiever Shul.
Nate Leipciger was born in 1928, in Chorzow, Poland. He survived the camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Fünfteichen, Gross-Rosen, Flossenbürg, Leonberg, Mühldorf am Inn and Waldlager. Nate and his father were liberated in May 1945 and came to Canada in 1948, where he chaired the Toronto Holocaust Remembrance Committee, and became an executive member of the Canadian Jewish Congress National Holocaust Remembrance Committee. Nate was also a member of the International Council to the Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau for fifteen years, has been an educator on March of the Living trips to Poland and Israel for fifteen years, and recently accompanied Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Nate has visited Kenora, Ontario to meet with Elders and Chiefs, and to speak to First Nations high school students. Nate's memoir, "The Weight of Freedom", was recently published by the Azrieli Foundation.
Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff (organizer & moderator) is a child Holocaust Survivor, Liberation75 committee member, education specialist for Holocaust Studies at Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Chairperson at the Holocaust Memorial in Greater Miami Jewish Federation in Miami Beach, an appointee to the Florida Education Commissioner's Holocaust Task Force, and the Director of the Summer Teacher Institute on Holocaust Studies at the University of Miami School of Education. Miriam has studied at Yad Vashem; the International Center for Holocaust Studies in Jerusalem. In October, 2019, Miriam was honoured in Pittsburgh with The Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Classrooms Without Borders in commemoration of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting. She was recently chosen as one of the Outstanding Pioneer Women in Miami-Dade County, and was given the Professional Educator of the Year Award. She was also awarded the Florida Holocaust Museum Holocaust Educator of the Year, the Haitian Holocaust Refugee Project's Tikkun Olam Award, the Miami-Dade Women's History Coalition as a Woman of Impact Award, and was given special tribute by the Florida House of Representatives. Additionally, Miriam was chosen to be the Miami Representative on Miami Consul General of Germany's "Jewish Germany Today" tour.
Miriam founded the prestigious "Screening the Holocaust" Film Series in cooperation with the Miami Jewish Film Festival. She recently completed her work on the film "The Last Witness of Treblinka" with Dr. Michael Berenbaum.
Miriam and her family fled their hometown in Kosice, Czechoslovakia, in 1941 after her father escaped a Nazi Hungarian Fascist Labor Camp. She grew up in the USA and has lived in Miami since 1979. Miriam's Holocaust education endeavors include staff development and educator training on teaching the Holocaust within all Miami-Dade public schools, and acting as Co-Chair for the Greater Miami Jewish Federation's Holocaust Memorial's Education Committee. Miriam has said that "one of the things I absolutely emphasize when teaching the teachers is [to] present life in Europe before the Holocaust. I always say to them, as Abba Kovner, the poet and survivor, said ‘How can you know what we lost when you don't know what we had?'"