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Best Second Act Phoenix 2009 - Gerda Weissmann Klein

The story of Scottsdale resident Gerda Weissmann Klein proves that America is, indeed, the land of second acts — F. Scott Fitzgerald be damned. Born in Poland in 1924, Klein survived labor camps, concentration camps, and death marches to marry one of the American G.I.'s who liberated her — Kurt Klein, a German-born Jew whose own parents had been murdered at Auschwitz.

The tragedy of her first act is matched by the triumph of her second: Her multiple awards include an Oscar, for the documentary One Survivor Remembers (based on her memoir All But My Life) and a lifetime achievement award from the American Immigration Law Foundation. In 1998, the Kleins established The Gerda and Kurt Klein Foundation, to provide educational tools that promote tolerance and community service, in partnership with organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

In 1999, Gerda traveled to Colorado to help the students at Columbine High School heal after the murder of their classmates. And this March, Klein celebrated the completion of the pilot program of Citizenship Counts, a non-profit she founded to educate middle school students about citizenship and civic responsibility. The program involved 100 seventh- and eighth-graders from Phoenix and Scottsdale who helped plan a naturalization ceremony for 50 new U.S. citizens from around the world; Klein spoke at the ceremony, as did retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Not bad for someone who had everything, short of her life, taken away and had to start over from scratch in a new language and a new land. What a country. What a woman!

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2 comments
Frtiedrich Paul Berg
Frtiedrich Paul Berg

The question I have for Gerda Weissmann Klein and all other "survivors" as well is: “If the Nazis had really been trying to kill them, how did they possibly survive?”

There are still today hundreds of thousands of so-called "holocaust survivors" including many thousands who spent time in Auschwitz. ALL of them are, in fact, living p-r-o-o-f (not merely “evidence”) for the simple fact that there was absolutely no attempt by the Germans to exterminate the Jews of Europe. All were kept alive by the Germans with food, water, shelter, medical care, clean clothing (free of lice), security andso much more.

Let's have a debate about it, Gerda—with me and not just with brainwashed, innocent school children. Surely, the New Times can help arrange such a public debate with sufficient police security and wide public interest in this enormously important subject.

Friedrich Paul BergLearn everything at my websiteNazi Gassings Never Happened!

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