Estelle and Burton Silbert are honoring Gerda Weissman Klein; the couple became familiar with her story during the 1970s and later befriended her while on a cruise in Greece. Klein is a well-known Holocaust survivor and the author of several books, including All But My Life, The Hours After: Letters of Love and Longing in War’s Aftermath, A Boring Evening at Home, and The Promise of a New Spring: The Holocaust and Renewal. Her extraordinary story was also featured in an Academy-Award winning documentary, One Survivor Remembers.
Klein was born in Bielsko, Poland, on May 8, 1924, and was fifteen years old when the Nazis invaded. Klein was sent to labor camps at Sosnowitz, Bolkenhaim, Märzdorf, Landeshut, and Gruenberg. Klein, along with 2,000 other women, was forced to march 350 miles from Germany to Czechoslovakia from January 1945 to April 1945. Only 125 were eventually liberated by the Americans, one of whom was her future husband, Kurt Klein. She was 68 pounds with grey-white hair when she met him at age 21 in 1945. None of her family had survived.
According to the Silberts, “Gerda and Kurt were devoted to each other and to the cause of making the world a better place. They traveled the world telling their story; giving life to those who were lost and giving hope to the rest of us.” The couple started a foundation to help stop world hunger and foster tolerance. The Silberts said, “Listening to Gerda taught all of us that no matter how horrible things are, you must go on. That there are moments, even under the very worst times, that allow us to be humane in the face of the worst inhumanity on earth. Life is so very precious and love serves to heal all wounds.”