Gerda Weissmann Klein

Gerda Weissmann Klein

Author Biography Gerda Weissmann Klein

“Ilse, a childhood friend of mine, once found a raspberry in the concentration camp and carried it in her pocket all day to present to me that night on a leaf. Imagine a world in which your entire possession is one raspberry and you give it to your friend.” quote from Gerda Weissmann Klein.

Gerda Weissmann Klein was born in 1924 in Bielsko, Poland. She is a Writer and a human rights activist. This is her abbreviated life story as told in Wikipedia and from Author Biography Gerda Weissmann Klein.

During the War

On September 3, 1939, German troops invaded fifteen year-old Gerda's home in Bielsko, Poland. Shortly after the invasion began, the family received a telegram from Gerda's uncle saying that the Germans were advancing quickly, and the family should leave Poland immediately. However, Gerda's father had just suffered a heart attack, and doctors advised that he not be moved or subjected to undue stress.

After the invasion, Gerda and her family watched in disbelief as people whom they had considered friends began flying the Nazi flag and using the Hitler salute. In mid-October, Gerda's older brother Arthur received a letter from the Germans: as a male between 16 and 50, Arthur (19) was required to register for the army. On October 18, 1939, Arthur complied with the summons and never saw his family again.

Gerda and her parents were forced to live in the basement of their home and later in a Jewish ghetto. In 1942, Gerda was separated from her father, who was sent to a death camp where he eventually perished that April. In June, her time in the ghetto was over. Left with only the company of her mother, they approached the guard; her mother was sent left, she went right. She had to be torn from her mother kicking and screaming. As both females boarded separate trains, she leapt out, pleading not to be separated from her sole remaining family member. A soldier tossed her back inside the train, saying, “You are too young to die.” He had saved her life, yet sentenced her mother to death. She was sent to the Dulag (Durchgangslager, a 9) 1945, Gerda was among 4000 women who began the 350-mile death march to avoid the advance of the Allied forces. During the death march, Gerda's best friend Ilse died in her arms. The forced journey went through Dresden, Chemnitz, Zwickau, Reichenbach, Plauen, Germany and on through Volary (in what is now the Czech Republic), and she was one of fewer than 120 women who survived exposure to the winter elements, starvation, and arbitrary execution. Despite such atrocities, Gerda never lost the will to live.

In 1945, on the eve of her 21st birthday she was liberated by American Lieutenant, Kurt Klein. The couple fell in love and eventually married; Kurt died in 2002. From 1998 until 2002 they ran the Gerda and Kurt Klein Foundation, to promote education, teach tolerance and reduce prejudice. In 2008 Gerda founded Citizenship Counts, which aims to educate middle and high school students about the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and the importance of “giving back” through community service.

Since the War

Gerda is one of five women to receive the prestigious international Lion of Judah award in Jerusalem and was awarded the President’s Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2011.

On February 15, 2011, President Barack Obama presented Gerda Weissmann Klein and 14 other recipients with the 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom. At the ceremony in the East Room of the White House, President Obama announced, "This year’s Medal of Freedom recipients reveal the best of who we are and who we aspire to be." He stated the following as Klein was presented with her Presidential Medal of Freedom:

“By the time she was 21, Gerda Klein had spent six years living under Nazi rule — three of them in concentration camps. Her parents and brother had been taken away. Her best friend had died in her arms during a 350-mile death march. And she weighed only 68 pounds when she was found by American forces in an abandoned bicycle factory. But Gerda survived. She married the soldier who rescued her. And ever since — as an author, a historian and a crusader for tolerance — she has taught the world that it is often in our most hopeless moments that we discover the extent of our strength and the depth of our love.”

President Obama then read a statement from Klein: “I pray you never stand at any crossroads in your own lives, but if you do, if the darkness seems so total, if you think there is no way out, remember, never ever give up.”

Between 1978 and 1996 Gerda was a featured columnist for the Buffalo News and in 1985 wrote The Windsor Caper as a children’s serial in 60 parts. When her English cousin, Martin Good, read the story (the only remaining version) he loved it and decided it should be published as a tribute to Gerda’s achievement and a source of delight for, in her own words, ‘children of all ages’. This delightful and magical story brings alive the fascinating pageantry of English history.

This Article was suggested and is based on The Windsor Caper author biography courtesy of Michelle click the link to her website or scroll down to the bottom of the page to view her member details
Author Biography Gerda Weissmann Klein

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“Ilse, a childhood friend of mine, once found a raspberry in the concentration camp and carried it in her pocket all day to present to me that night on a leaf. Imagine a world in which your entire possession is one...

The Windsor Caper by Gerda Weissmann Klein

This is a gentle and magical story with a strong retro feel, from a time when mobile phones and computers only existed in science fiction and perhaps life was a bit simpler. As well as providing some amusing insights into the differences between the American and British versions of the English language, it vividly brings alive some of the fascinating pageantry and drama of English History and integrates them into an exciting adventure.
Set in the 1980s it is about two American girls....

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