If you would like to request a speaker, click here.
“I never took history seriously. I thought – it’s in the past, why should I care? But I can honestly say that you have sparked a light of passion in me for what happened in the past.” –Student Audience Member
Anneke Bloomfield was born on April 19th, 1935, in The Hague, The Netherlands. Her father worked for Shell Oil Company, while her mother was a retired schoolteacher. Anneke had three brothers and a sister, and they lived in a Jewish neighborhood until Anneke’s father decided that they should move to a townhouse, as tensions towards Jews started to increase. They also started attending a new church and a Christian school, leading those around them to believe they were Christian.
Eline Hoekstra Dresden was born the youngest of four Jewish children in 1923 in The Hague, The Netherlands; two years later her family moved to Utrecht, The Netherlands. It was apparent to Eline’s family that some parts of Europe were no longer safe for Jews as soon as the beginning of the Second World War in 1939, and they took in two Jewish refugee children whose parents had sent them away from Germany for safekeeping among strangers.
Eva was born in 1937 in the small town of Kosice, Czechoslovakia. The first two years of her life went smoothly until her father’s business license was revoked because he was Jewish. It grew increasingly difficult for him to find employment, and soon the family moved to Budapest, Hungary to join other family members.
Evelyn Banko was born in Vienna, Austria in 1936. When she was two years old, the Nazis seized Austria. Now under Nazi control, Austria became a dangerous place for Evelyn’s Jewish family to live. The Nazis made her father scrub the sidewalks as a form of humiliation and it became increasingly difficult for the family to carry on its day-to-day activities due to anti-Jewish laws.
Jeannie Smith is the daughter of Polish rescuer Irene Gut OpDyke who passed away on May 18, 2003. Irene received international recognition for her actions during the Holocaust while working for a high-ranking German official. Irene’s life story was recently told each night on Broadway in the nationally acclaimed play “Irena’s Vow” staring Tovah Feldshuh.
Irene’s book – “In My Hands” – memories of a Holocaust rescuer from Random House relays the detailed account of her life during the Second World War and is used in classrooms around the country.
Leslie was born in 1929 in Czechoslovakia. In the early 1940s his family moved to Budapest in the hope of escaping oppressive Nazi discrimination against Jews. In 1943 the Nazis forced Leslie’s father into a slave labor camp and his sixteen-year-old sister was taken to a factory to do forced labor.
In 1944 Leslie, his mother, and his eight-year-old sister were taken from their home to the Budapest Ghetto. From there they were taken to Auschwitz, where his mother and sister were sent directly to the gas chambers.
Miriam Kominkowska was born in 1929 in Sompolno, Poland, where her father’s family had lived for generations. As a young girl, Miriam’s family moved through the Polish cities of Radziejow, Aleksandrow, and Lubranieć, where they were living when the Nazis invaded in 1939. Soon after the invasion the Nazis imposed harsh laws on all Jews. They were forced to wear yellow stars sewn onto their clothing. Miriam was forbidden from attending school. Soon the Nazis confiscated her father’s lumber business and the family was forced to live on the meager rations allotted to them.
Ruth Bolliger was born in March 1938 in Czechoslovakia. Just seven days prior to her birth, the Nazis invaded Austria, where Ruth’s extended family lived. Her grandfather had received a Nobel Prize just years earlier, and the high standing of Ruth’s family made them a target: those living in Austria were imprisoned that evening. However her extended family’s connections eventually helped her immediate family escape to the U.S.