I rarely dedicate this piece to persons I have known, but today I want to share this in honor and memory of Gerda Weissman Klein. She was a Holocaust survivor who went home to our Lord on April 3, 2022.
I first came to know of Mrs. Klein when I was in 7th grade. Our English teacher assigned us an excerpt from her book: All But My Life, followed by an essay on the reading. I attended a private school, and shortly after reading Mrs. Klein’s narrative, our class decided she would be our commencement speaker if she would agree. She did. Everyone who was present that day was captivated by her story, her grace, and her faith.
When I responded to God’s call upon my life, I remembered many of the words Mrs. Klein shared with us on graduation day. Every once in a while, I would learn that Mrs. Klein was still giving lectures, and interviews and ensuring that her legacy was preserved. In 1995, I learned her husband’s story which was recounted in the Oscar-winning documentary called One Survivor Remembers.
I met Mrs. Klein again in 2008 when she visited the Flint area to support the Youth Theater’s production of Anne Frank and give a lecture about the Holocaust, and her continued efforts to ensure the events were never forgotten. Three years later, she received the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Obama. I was at the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem at the time, looking at the shoes of those who journeyed with her on that forced march. The monitors showed Mrs. Klein receiving the medal, but I had to wait until I returned home to hear what she said.
I invite you to read her book or watch her documentary or any of the speeches that can be found online. Her story may be a very good topic for an adult study on the injustices that are still present in the world. And for a woman who gave me hope in some of the darkest times of my life, who inspired me and helped to shape who I am, I thank her for being brave enough to tell her story and share her love with everyone she met. And Amen.