Ann Kliger Axelrod was born Elizabeth Benedikt on August 25, 1929 in Budapest, Hungary. On March 18, 1944, when Ann was 14 years old, the Nazis invaded Hungary and forced Jews to obey the degrading laws that were already in place in Germany. On April 5, Hungarians at German headquarters in Budapest took the photo of Ann wearing a yellow star for identification.
April 5 was also the date when the Jewish Hungarian labor battalions, including Ann’s brother Lazlo, were sent to the Russian front. It was the last day that Ann saw her brother. Ann became one of a number of teenage Jewish girls issued a schutzpasse by Raoul Wallenberg and put up in a Swedish safe house. After escaping from a transport to Bergen-Belsen with other children, Ann went to the Budapest ghetto, where she received false papers from a family friend. Using these papers, Ann was able to leave the ghetto on November 1944, and hid with her mother in a bombed-out hotel until Budapest was liberated by the Russians.
After the war, Ann met her husband Shaja Kliger in a bread line in Budapest. They moved to Italy, where her son Jack, who is now President of the Museum, and her daughter Lea were born. In 1948 the family moved to the United States. Here the family lived in Brooklyn, New York, where she had her third child, Stella. Ann now has four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Ann is interviewed by Rick Salomon, a co-founder of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center.
Watch the program below.
Recording transcript for Stories Survive: Ann Kliger Axelrod
This program’s original recording transcript is below. This transcription was created automatically during a live program so may contain inaccurate transcriptions of some words.
Ariel Kates: My name is Ariel Kates i'm the director of marketing at the Museum of Jewish heritage, a living memorial to the Holocaust.
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Ariel Kates: Now, and it's 24th year at the museum is committed to the crucial mission of educating our diverse community about Jewish life and heritage, before, during and after the Holocaust.
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Ariel Kates: As part of this mission, our stories survive programs are meant to illuminate the stories of survivors in their own words.
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Ariel Kates: survivors have much to share, about their struggles and resistance about anti semitism and about the need to be up standards in the face of all forms of bigotry.
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Ariel Kates: These stories allow us to learn about survivors experience during the Holocaust and into the present.
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Ariel Kates: Tonight we are very honored to welcome and clicker axelrod and was born Elizabeth Benedict on August 25 1929 in Budapest Hungary.
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Ariel Kates: And was 14 years old, when the Nazis invaded hungry and while her story starts in Budapest, it includes moving to Italy and later to brooklyn after liberation.
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Ariel Kates: April 5 was the significant day for an and we'll find out why this evening, as an is here to share her story with the public, for the first time.
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Ariel Kates: we're so glad to welcome rick Solomon, who is here to talk with an.
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Ariel Kates: rick Solomon is the founder and CEO of vantage point consultants, he is also a Co founder and member of the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and education Center.
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Ariel Kates: rick has been involved in a variety of other philanthropic organizations such as visas for life foundation New York university's have many institute the interfaith youth core and the auburn theological seminary rick is.
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Ariel Kates: So, just a quick note, before I turn the evening over to rick and and which is that I will be off camera during their talk, but i'm here i'll be here in the chat if you have thoughts or, if you want to share anything.
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Ariel Kates: But we do ask that, if you have questions specifically for an or rick this evening that you.
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Ariel Kates: Use the zoom Q amp a function it just helps to keep track of your questions and we will get to as many of those as we can, following the talk so rick and and I turn this evening over to you Thank you so much.
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Rick Salomon: Thank you very much oriol and thank the Museum of Jewish heritage and jack leaguer for making this possible and it's a privilege to chat with you will.
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Rick Salomon: be able to focus on the 1930s and up to about 1946 but you've led a remarkable life, so why don't you start by telling us a little about life in the early 1930s in Budapest, you know before World War Two tell us a little about what life was like then.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: Well it's most 3030 safe for the Jews it all started in 1936 that my parents had a restaurant, then in shield for me.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: The link part on reserve very famous area in hungry and then Monday, they were not allowed to use the kosher sign for the restaurant and.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: Every day, there was no law and every day or something but you're not allowed to do, finally, my parents had to close the restaurant and we came back to pull up best variable from originally and my mother started to.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: killer better bedding and my father, the hard time finding any.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: occupation and it takes me to make a living, it was a hard time from then on.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: Indeed.
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Rick Salomon: Indeed, in 1936, as you say your restaurant was closed in the anti Jewish law is increasingly came into effect.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: time it was a new anti Jewish oh.
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Rick Salomon: Indeed, I didn't mean to interrupt.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: that's okay.
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Rick Salomon: And in the early 1940s, so you know you would been going to school, but your ability at age 14 I think in 1943 to go to gymnasium or high school with stop.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: Right absolutely because you didn't have the opportunity to go to Jewish Jewish and, as you stay close and the non Jewish gymnasiums they wouldn't accept us choose so that and then my Korean as a school, though.
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Rick Salomon: i'm sorry to hear that Arielle do you want to queue up that picture you inverted to.
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Rick Salomon: The picture which are real it's about to put off is of and on April 519 44.
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Rick Salomon: With a Jewish Star and she's smiling just one comment before asking you to set the scene and.
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Rick Salomon: The Nazis came in, I believe march 19 and occupied.
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Rick Salomon: Hungary and on April five you know you're forced to wear the Jewish star so tell us a little about that day, and also, since that is 78 years ago to this very day, why, if I may ask you are smiling in that photo.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: Well, first of all, then they took the pictures the Nazi photography a shock to me smile So what do you do you smile.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: And then.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: present day, we took my brother, to the train station, because he had two.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: or three years battalion the Jewish forced Labor voice, she was 21 years old and your team police station and.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: undoing there, there were some other.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: battalion be.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: People there and they said Where are you going so he said when he was going to reach battalion he said jumped up will take you a day and a big truck.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: And he did it jumped up the truck and he's still there, watching him grow That was the last time I saw my quantity your model your beautiful mother.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: and her.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: Forget stuff as well, and this is.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: Of course.
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Rick Salomon: Of course, very, very sad so tell us after that at that day were you able to go back to your apartment in the ghetto.
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Rick Salomon: Or what what happened.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: There was no getting away yet, as it was just when the Germans came in and we went back to our apartments everybody, but and our House, there was a big yellow star to show that generously then.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: and
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: We.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: were all right until the.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: end of summer and then we saw heard that all the people through the other areas where all the border and naturally we're all afraid that's gonna be our turn next in Budapest at the time they were about 100 I would say 200,000 Jews and.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: If it never came about, we weren't before, but there was a ghetto created.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: And again, so you had to.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: just be a couple of hours outside the last year to sit in the House, you are not allowed to go out except between 10 and three at first la they're not even that and there was.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: A very hard time and I know that that i'm young enough to want to 100 doors Swedish homes, where they don't deal with children under the bomb for.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: The.
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Rick Salomon: With the shirts pants yeah let's I want to, I want to go into that a little, so how did it come to pass this is like October November of 1944.
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Rick Salomon: Yes, more you were.
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Rick Salomon: given access to a safe House how did you receive the shirts passed from the same.
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Rick Salomon: vendor yeah.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: Actually I didn't get to receive it, by the time is shaved they show sponsor those ready to receive it, they they.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: fascist government, the government October 15 and the day our course I drove you know so precious access behind area analysis it took over everything and we could not.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: Go anywhere or do anything in that world today and have of our lives, because the ghetto opened up the.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: brush just impossible to have anything to eat there is there was very difficult and they took us back to the clone this do is the Swedish safe house it's because back to the ghetto and young.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: People they took to the train.
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Rick Salomon: Before you get there, if I may, let me just unpack a little more of this, so how did it come to pass that you gain access to this safe house that.
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Rick Salomon: These houses that were run by fame docs dander and Swedish diplomat raw little while and back Burke was that, through a relative of yours, or how did you come to get that.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: Actually mindy relative she's treating and got the paper that they were sending us the course there.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: We were.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: In the same House, because I was young and very young kids they're allowed to between 14 and 16 or really allowed to go there, but.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: It was they didn't take long before the arrow crush still to boulder and the the guns in their hands, they took us back again, though.
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Rick Salomon: Right and and and you start at a point this out there across which is obviously a right wing fascist group and control and.
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Rick Salomon: Hungary, then had all able, by women go to the train station and you were among those who went you didn't you were not told very much, I believe that you were going to a Labor camp, but there were also a lot of young children who were on accompanied by.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: So I did.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: I decided a couple of our data girls that's not the one that these children we did alone and we said that we are 13 or 12 or younger and we start with a little children and their mothers or shift to Belgium Belgian at the time being, no, but then they're never not one of them came home.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: Because I had a lot of friends on that train and not one of them came home.
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Rick Salomon: Well, I want to stop there for a minute because one needs to really put a point on this, and that is here you are you're about 14 years old.
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Rick Salomon: You are sent to this train station what possessed you, if I may ask to make this split second decision to help try to save these other young on accompany girls to take them back to the ghetto, not knowing that if you had actually gone on a train, you would have gone to your own demise.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: sure that there's going back to the get or, worse, the worst decision, but we didn't have a heart to leave those little group children alone.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: With even put against the wall by themselves crying after their mother their mother surfboard at the train.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: So a few friends of mine you got to build every server we can do this, we have to take these kids with us and we did we took them to the ghetto, each of us carry them a couple of.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: little girls and little boys and event equitably ghetto, where we left these little children in there was organizations Jewish organizations within the ghetto that took care of this type of things and data is chosen from us and we went on our way to try to serve our mission.
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Rick Salomon: But your active altruism actually in the end, help save your own life.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: So on i'd saved our lives because, as I said before, this.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: train that these young women and men to Bergen belsen not one of them survived because I had a few friends their wives why.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: are building and promote this place where we were staying and I went every day to for them every day, I went to their apartment and not one of them came back.
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Rick Salomon: So tell me at this point, are you still.
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Rick Salomon: With your parents or have they already separated.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: From my father more sure ready baby shake and they took him down to a patient in in a building, but all the old people are sick people were taken, and my mother I I found hiding.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: In in and.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: Then next door neighbor let her get in the middle of the night when all the other people are taken to the ghetto she ran out and she ran into this, the next door neighbors who are not Jewish and they let her come in to the apartment.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: And then I came back to the get though I had a postcard with me.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: That I used to send my brother every day I used to send them a push button and I just took a chance and I don't know or Skype to this.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: The people that I know my mother's where to go if she could, if she could escape that's where she would go and if she was there, and my mother sent their son without or false papers for me and that's how I came out so they get through that's how I got together with my mother.
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Rick Salomon: Before we get here mother tell tell me a little more about your father, you say was sick and he was an award in the ghetto, but you made it through the rubble I understand and found him and and and what happened to him that.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: I found from neighbors bed they took the sick and the old people, which basement the rich house, so I went and they were still alive and he said to me, or he wants his song, as experience and some.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: triggers if I could bring it to him and I rented a band of the drug store around the corner that I know and they and I found some experience for him.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: Know found some tobacco for him some cigarettes now I went back and give it to him and I said, you know, bring your something to eat and by the time I came back with some food, he was gone.
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Rick Salomon: yeah.
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Rick Salomon: told me that story took great courage for you to try to you know get to him, not just once but twice.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: Well, I tried and I was young, and I was wrong and he came.
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Rick Salomon: sure.
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Rick Salomon: So tell us more about your mom, if I understand correctly, the story.
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Rick Salomon: They were hitting by neighbors but some of these were righteous Christian.
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Rick Salomon: Day adventist.
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Rick Salomon: So tell us a little more about that how they came to save your mom and how you reunited with her.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: Well, the next door neighbors with us for years and I met my mother, in the middle, the night, she took whatever she had, and she gave it to them from whatever she's.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: Hours whatever she had she gave it to her this lady said just save me for a couple days, and then I leave because she knows, she can stay there.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: They knew everybody knew her in the building, but this lady kept her for a couple of Nice and those cultural a nice I came and me both run i'll be in the middle of the night.
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Rick Salomon: What time period are we talking about now, this would be November, December into January.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: It was the end of October November, December right i've been posted yet though most created.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: What did I did already.
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Rick Salomon: Where you.
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Rick Salomon: Sorry, were you been able to go with your mom back to your apartment.
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Rick Salomon: Bad pastor That was all path.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: No that's the first of all I couldn't go back to my apartment because they were recognized, they would buy your way you buy so but back to the.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: Cross so that was out of the question of should go back to the apartment but.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: They had this big apartment buildings.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: That.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: they're all bound out, but the basements where people hiding so that's my mother and I was hiding out for the rest of the time.
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Rick Salomon: and very boring bombing of Budapest, no.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: That was that was during the bombing of Budapest and every morning and every evening there was a plane scheme.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: And the bomb scheme.
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Rick Salomon: Not the kind of childhood, one would walk or work for anyone, but you remember it all, it seems so vividly.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: I do, I do remember it like it was today, especially the today's date because done for the day I last time I saw my brother, and that was the day we had to put down the stars and diverse both.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: terrifying experiences that i'll never forget.
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Rick Salomon: Tell us what what happened next I know we're going to come soon to how you know the Russians came in and the city was.
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Rick Salomon: was liberated and how you met your husband, but before we do that What else do you recall of your time during the battle of Budapest and otherwise, that you went through with your mom.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: Well, we didn't have anything to eat either when he saw my mother had a friend who live.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: Not far from there in your where your where I grew up there and.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: She said I can't go there, because people know we do recognize me, but you can because you are a very little girl I used to go visiting with my mother.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: And I read a read on the bombing Iran between the houses, the buildings and I went to this non Jewish lady who gave me some food.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: and know that tie them back when I came back my mother couldn't believe that she was Syria again, she said, I never thought that they would make it and I came back and I brought her some food and recent food, and so we stay in the last couple weeks until did I show screaming.
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Rick Salomon: So so.
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Rick Salomon: Sorry, some of it to.
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Rick Salomon: You know we're in the area supported you and did not turn people and so.
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Rick Salomon: know who to turn to.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: That first of all, it was already to the end, everybody was hiding all those people who are hiding in the basement, and the reason to be there, they were a couple of soldiers who didn't wanna go back to the front in my go back to their battalions you are a couple of people who.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: are hiding from sorry I don't know from boom ready to their husbands used to be DEMO but.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: This was.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: A basement for people were almost in the same they weren't Jewish, but they were almost you seem hard life like we had.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: And they were not out to get us they already knew the Russians were coming in any any day now and they weren't gonna take a chance of having a bad name so they're they're tolerated awesome be tolerated them, it was to be just said this.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: basement some deals, they could.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: Do Russia scheming.
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Rick Salomon: As a.
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Rick Salomon: As a teenager or young teenager at this point, did you believe you're going to survive this you know you know from one day to the next talk a little about your perspective on life and, if I may also your faith.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: yeah absolutely let's see I was always very religious and I was always I always believed in God and I always believed that he really helped me.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: And, especially at that I met my mother, again I reassure that is with us, and that is gonna help her through this and.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: We did we managed was already very hard, it was to put the middle of the event at the highest the intercedes in in in in Budapest, the meeting with us develop more or less in like in New York.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: And they Russia scheme in January 19.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: So we were up until then we were have on the switch because the basements were not.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: warmed or anything and.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: It was a very, very tough going very tough time but I was at my mother and you know, hoping for the best and.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: Thank God God was good to us.
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Ann Kliger Axelrod: God was with us.
00:29:08.670 --> 00:29:16.560
Rick Salomon: You certainly went through an ordeal, but your faith obviously help help you survive and you, you know your courage.
00:29:17.610 --> 00:29:33.900
Rick Salomon: You mentioned earlier, and it never ended up coming to pass that you were supposed to receive I should pass from Wallenberg but events took hold and the arrow Christ prevented that did you ever meet Raoul Wallenberg.
00:29:34.290 --> 00:29:52.530
Ann Kliger Axelrod: No, no, no, I never had the pleasure of meeting when I heard about him and I use P amp T George next building Gordon the next house and ap for so am I never had the pleasure to meet him.
00:29:53.850 --> 00:29:56.730
Rick Salomon: Well before I asked you to reflect a little on.
00:29:58.080 --> 00:30:21.090
Rick Salomon: This part of your life, let me take you one step further, so you know as the war is coming to an end a someone in a little later now in June of 1945 ccu and a breadline, I want you to speak about that a little and follows you home why don't you tell us a little about that story.
00:30:21.660 --> 00:30:33.570
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Well, I was on the breadline five o'clock in the morning and that's where my husband saw me and I don't know how you could like me because I didn't look anything like.
00:30:34.110 --> 00:30:48.180
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Like a human being and he, like me, and you followed me and I really have been the Jewish area and and he know that if I live there i'm a Jewish girl.
00:30:48.870 --> 00:31:02.100
Ann Kliger Axelrod: And my mother's Jewish I don't speak English at the time, but my mother did, and he talked to my mother or the time and he was telling him to.
00:31:03.090 --> 00:31:17.220
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Leave Budapest, because it's not going to be good, the Russian scheme in the econo of Communism and the Jews are going to be in trouble again and he thought my mother into.
00:31:18.600 --> 00:31:22.380
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Going and we did event, with him, he was a.
00:31:26.460 --> 00:31:26.970
Ann Kliger Axelrod: black.
00:31:29.610 --> 00:31:30.390
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Market to.
00:31:31.110 --> 00:31:48.300
Ann Kliger Axelrod: yeah and he has a little bit of money and he said he was gonna take us to Italy, he was going to go to Italy, and if I want to marry him then Okay, if not we're not going each of our way.
00:31:49.080 --> 00:32:06.960
Ann Kliger Axelrod: And we ran together my mother, my sister my brother there or had come back from the camp, so they were and we went to Italy with my house, then.
00:32:08.610 --> 00:32:31.380
Rick Salomon: soon to be husband step back for a minute, because your son told me a little, and although the interviews really more about you, Sam pfleger, as I understand it, in August of 42 he escaped from the massacre accused and what was then all and which is now actually part of Ukraine.
00:32:32.100 --> 00:32:34.170
Rick Salomon: From November, I believe.
00:32:34.740 --> 00:32:54.630
Ann Kliger Axelrod: I wish I could talk to him about this, because he would know my screen that displays this taking place, he lived in that area, he was born in loot skin, I see it, on the maps and they show that defies are going on, I see his home town.
00:32:56.100 --> 00:32:58.980
Ann Kliger Axelrod: He was from this area and.
00:33:01.290 --> 00:33:09.270
Rick Salomon: I know that he also hit in the forest and was taking it to the Russian army before you, you met him but.
00:33:09.750 --> 00:33:18.660
Rick Salomon: He went on, then, and I think, with the help if i'm correct of the Jewish brigade, you were all smuggled into Italy and you.
00:33:19.980 --> 00:33:23.790
Rick Salomon: Did you remember the role of the Jewish brigade and helping you.
00:33:24.450 --> 00:33:34.770
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Well, we were in on the border of Austria and Italy, but we had to go.
00:33:37.980 --> 00:33:48.630
Ann Kliger Axelrod: The three and two questions so far, and then the the Jewish brigade came with trucks and took us further in 330.
00:33:49.980 --> 00:33:50.580
Ann Kliger Axelrod: and
00:33:51.600 --> 00:33:56.430
Ann Kliger Axelrod: As a matter of fact, was a very interesting situation was they forgot about our truck.
00:33:57.510 --> 00:34:15.600
Ann Kliger Axelrod: For sitting in in vain for them to come in and take us and they they forgot about us that eventually people started looking for trends and tears, and they realize it that's a truck is missing and that's where they came together.
00:34:17.670 --> 00:34:22.740
Rick Salomon: And you went in Italy, I believe, in February of 1946.
00:34:23.130 --> 00:34:26.160
Ann Kliger Axelrod: February 1946 a marriage, yes.
00:34:26.820 --> 00:34:35.520
Rick Salomon: And then you started a family, I believe, by your son jack, who is now the CEO of the Museum of Jewish heritage was born a year later there.
00:34:36.540 --> 00:34:37.020
Ann Kliger Axelrod: was more.
00:34:39.990 --> 00:34:40.890
Rick Salomon: muscle car.
00:34:41.850 --> 00:34:43.200
Rick Salomon: What about what about.
00:34:43.260 --> 00:34:44.910
Rick Salomon: You also had a daughter correct.
00:34:45.420 --> 00:34:58.620
Ann Kliger Axelrod: And I my daughter, the one, always with me now, I also have another daughter, unfortunately I lost her unfortunately he died about 15 years ago.
00:35:00.390 --> 00:35:01.560
Ann Kliger Axelrod: The name were stellar.
00:35:03.180 --> 00:35:04.200
Ann Kliger Axelrod: sounds like clean.
00:35:07.980 --> 00:35:12.540
Rick Salomon: And you came back to United States in 1950 is out of our right.
00:35:12.870 --> 00:35:13.980
Ann Kliger Axelrod: I didn't judge the.
00:35:16.170 --> 00:35:22.680
Ann Kliger Axelrod: daughter was six months old they came to the United States and.
00:35:25.980 --> 00:35:31.290
Ann Kliger Axelrod: took us two weeks to get here, because there was a fire on the on the chimney.
00:35:32.610 --> 00:35:37.290
Ann Kliger Axelrod: I said to my husband, you know there's a fire in this show me, you said.
00:35:43.080 --> 00:35:44.940
Rick Salomon: After fire on a ship you mean.
00:35:45.330 --> 00:35:46.860
Rick Salomon: yeah i'm here.
00:35:47.340 --> 00:35:52.140
Ann Kliger Axelrod: On the ship and pitching in this little changes and.
00:35:54.060 --> 00:36:11.790
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Then, after we got here to my husband my late husband she rest in peace and two uncles who were long, long time already, in the United States and they took us in and they gave us.
00:36:13.050 --> 00:36:22.380
Ann Kliger Axelrod: A place to live until an event work right away and entered our apartment very shown and.
00:36:24.450 --> 00:36:25.980
Rick Salomon: Did you go through Ellis Island.
00:36:27.330 --> 00:36:36.330
Ann Kliger Axelrod: No, no, he came privately because, unlike grover six months old I was afraid to take her.
00:36:37.770 --> 00:36:38.640
Ann Kliger Axelrod: To due to.
00:36:40.500 --> 00:36:51.240
Ann Kliger Axelrod: A long journey so whatever money be left the paint and be took a private to ship and we came to the United States.
00:36:52.110 --> 00:36:55.800
Rick Salomon: So, before I turn it back sorry i'll, let me just ask a few.
00:36:57.450 --> 00:37:04.140
Rick Salomon: retrospective questions first are there aspects of your life in Budapest.
00:37:05.430 --> 00:37:22.260
Rick Salomon: The agony of what you endured beyond what you've said that you want to share reflect on in terms of your time with your mom with your your dad or otherwise, that in this recorded session we can keep.
00:37:25.050 --> 00:37:26.430
Rick Salomon: Anything glad.
00:37:31.110 --> 00:37:36.960
Ann Kliger Axelrod: You entered a new ask me all the questions that I, I can.
00:37:38.130 --> 00:37:39.690
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Right now, remember.
00:37:40.890 --> 00:37:45.330
Ann Kliger Axelrod: it's not that easy to remember every thing but.
00:37:46.380 --> 00:37:48.330
Ann Kliger Axelrod: More or less I told you, or why.
00:37:49.590 --> 00:37:56.640
Rick Salomon: Are you did a wonderful job of doing it, let me just ask you this because we live in troubled times today.
00:37:57.720 --> 00:37:58.680
Rick Salomon: places like.
00:37:59.250 --> 00:38:04.680
Rick Salomon: You know where your husband May he rest in peace came from in Ukraine.
00:38:05.100 --> 00:38:14.790
Rick Salomon: So I guess my last question before turning it back to Arielle for the moment is tell us you know.
00:38:15.480 --> 00:38:30.480
Rick Salomon: What would you say to young people today, you know, given what you've endured, you know you know, is the glass half empty or the glass half full, what do you say about hope and and work, you know, have to going.
00:38:31.020 --> 00:38:55.230
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Well, personally, I can say that you should always have hope and always have to because that's, the only thing that kept me alive and, if I can give anybody any advice that's what I received keep on believing and hoping and doing the best you can and.
00:38:56.400 --> 00:39:01.380
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Hopefully things will get better and there's horrible war.
00:39:03.480 --> 00:39:07.590
Ann Kliger Axelrod: And some peace in this world is she needs so badly.
00:39:09.240 --> 00:39:21.930
Rick Salomon: Well, said well said, and let me say what I said before, we went live with the event, and that is, to me, one of the sweetest revanchist to the Nazis and those who perpetrated these.
00:39:22.380 --> 00:39:37.500
Rick Salomon: horrific crimes and genocide is to survive and to procreate and the beautiful family you created with a son, no less, the CEO of the museum and your daughter who's with us.
00:39:38.910 --> 00:39:42.030
Rick Salomon: You know, is living testament to.
00:39:43.920 --> 00:39:44.730
Rick Salomon: triumphal.
00:39:46.020 --> 00:39:46.740
Rick Salomon: adversity.
00:39:47.280 --> 00:39:50.940
Ann Kliger Axelrod: I thank you very much, put a lovely compliment.
00:39:53.130 --> 00:39:53.700
Rick Salomon: it's man.
00:39:54.960 --> 00:39:59.580
Rick Salomon: Arielle Let me turn it to you to see if there are questions from the audience at this point.
00:40:06.390 --> 00:40:07.320
Ariel Kates: Hello again.
00:40:07.470 --> 00:40:09.330
Ariel Kates: Thank you so much for this.
00:40:13.050 --> 00:40:29.310
Ariel Kates: We have lots lots of questions from from our Community and folks who who are here, please feel free to continue asking questions as we go.
00:40:31.290 --> 00:40:40.350
Ariel Kates: So i'm going to try to go chronologically through these questions, hopefully they will they will make sense.
00:40:41.880 --> 00:40:46.050
Ariel Kates: let's see, so we have a question.
00:40:47.820 --> 00:40:50.910
Ariel Kates: about your life before the war.
00:40:52.380 --> 00:41:01.980
Ariel Kates: Did you experience anti semitism before the war and what was that, like if you have memories of that.
00:41:02.400 --> 00:41:15.540
Ann Kliger Axelrod: The first memory, I have my mom died crying that they can't they have to give up the restaurant, we had because they couldn't put up the kosher sign.
00:41:16.080 --> 00:41:28.770
Ann Kliger Axelrod: And I remember my mother saying I don't know what's going to be what we gonna do, but we have to close the restaurant, because people would not come in and they did see the sign.
00:41:29.610 --> 00:41:42.630
Ann Kliger Axelrod: The restaurants all over the place, but they were not kosher restaurant and the last, the first I was really a very little girl, I was, maybe, six, seven years old.
00:41:43.110 --> 00:41:57.630
Ann Kliger Axelrod: And that's my first memory of the I asked her what happened what's what's the problem, and she was telling me that at dos or overachiever for children that we have to.
00:41:59.010 --> 00:42:12.960
Ann Kliger Axelrod: give up give up the restaurant, because the ball that does have the kosher sign and we have to go back to Budapest and see what she can make only been, but you can do.
00:42:14.850 --> 00:42:16.110
Ariel Kates: Wireless the restaurant.
00:42:17.250 --> 00:42:25.680
Ann Kliger Axelrod: The restaurant tours arena league ball out on it was a very famous area in Hungary and.
00:42:26.730 --> 00:42:41.010
Ann Kliger Axelrod: The place where we used to go to every year is co CIO for your business, but also the nicest resort areas in in hungry and.
00:42:42.090 --> 00:42:47.850
Ann Kliger Axelrod: That was the first time I really came fish two fish is a horrible antisemitism.
00:42:51.210 --> 00:42:52.020
Ariel Kates: Thanks.
00:42:54.480 --> 00:42:56.370
Ariel Kates: Okay let's see.
00:42:57.780 --> 00:43:01.200
Ariel Kates: We have some questions.
00:43:02.940 --> 00:43:22.500
Ariel Kates: And it makes it makes sense if the restaurant was kosher that that that would have to that would have to happen, but we have some questions about how the Nazis new, you mentioned that there, there was a yellow star on your home how did, how did that happen.
00:43:23.790 --> 00:43:46.590
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Well, that was much later that was after the Germans came in 1944 and he had to put up our big yellow star or every Jewish home that was just before we put on and start individually, but Brian away when they came in, you had to put on the big star on the homes.
00:43:47.820 --> 00:43:49.200
Ann Kliger Axelrod: And then later on.
00:43:50.250 --> 00:44:06.750
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Maybe how much they learned, it was April 1 Today is the anniversary April 5 we had to put on the Star and the Germans came in March 19 so every two weeks.
00:44:07.980 --> 00:44:09.150
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Oh, this happened.
00:44:11.370 --> 00:44:13.710
Ariel Kates: Incredible and.
00:44:16.080 --> 00:44:30.930
Ariel Kates: We have also some questions about your siblings and relatives about the the cat the camps that they were in and and how they managed to survive, those who did.
00:44:31.080 --> 00:44:36.810
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Well, my my sister was in a camp in Austria, and she.
00:44:37.830 --> 00:44:38.970
Ann Kliger Axelrod: She survived.
00:44:40.290 --> 00:44:43.170
Ann Kliger Axelrod: To came home very chic and.
00:44:44.490 --> 00:45:00.540
Ann Kliger Axelrod: All in my mother's devotion that she gave her all kinds of food to survive, she had tuberculosis, she was Center sanatorium my mother used to go there every day bring food.
00:45:01.110 --> 00:45:11.130
Ann Kliger Axelrod: was a doctor told her if you will be able to feed her if able to get her back on her feet, maybe you'll have a chance, as you saw on.
00:45:12.360 --> 00:45:23.580
Ann Kliger Axelrod: That was my sister my brother my oldest brother never came home so i'm never heard in my younger brother verse.
00:45:25.110 --> 00:45:28.050
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Also in I can regenerate from.
00:45:29.070 --> 00:45:35.520
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Research one morning I just felt that I and i'm going to get killed here, and he.
00:45:36.660 --> 00:45:55.980
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Then on way to our to London town he had a piece of paper identification paper that they for somehow forgot to put the database Jewish so he put in himself that tubers casually.
00:45:57.030 --> 00:46:08.310
Ann Kliger Axelrod: And in this identification paper event from town to town you're settled in a town near or sphere and.
00:46:09.600 --> 00:46:26.370
Ann Kliger Axelrod: that's where somebody was working for a baker and he didn't tell them say that the brochures never know that the brochure ish and that's how we survived and I had two cousins or written that can.
00:46:27.900 --> 00:46:32.730
Ann Kliger Axelrod: stay there, because one of them are sheep and then they got killed.
00:46:33.540 --> 00:46:34.290
Ann Kliger Axelrod: In a game.
00:46:35.880 --> 00:46:36.780
Ann Kliger Axelrod: What do you.
00:46:37.020 --> 00:46:38.010
What do you remember.
00:46:40.110 --> 00:46:40.590
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Oh, I didn't.
00:46:42.450 --> 00:46:43.380
Ann Kliger Axelrod: know my favorites.
00:46:44.520 --> 00:46:45.630
Ann Kliger Axelrod: bar was a year.
00:46:46.680 --> 00:46:49.860
Ann Kliger Axelrod: older than me and one was four years old and.
00:46:51.270 --> 00:46:54.090
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Beautiful voice and.
00:46:55.110 --> 00:46:58.440
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Unfortunately they never made the never came home.
00:47:03.330 --> 00:47:12.570
Ariel Kates: We have a question about memories, that you have with them from before the war, I don't know if you have anything that you.
00:47:13.290 --> 00:47:13.740
Ariel Kates: care about.
00:47:14.790 --> 00:47:28.320
Ann Kliger Axelrod: My younger cousin gave me a new spaceship or you know Dubai she called me and she used to do with the old invite for a ride, I remember that first my most fun time.
00:47:31.440 --> 00:47:32.610
Ann Kliger Axelrod: He never came to me.
00:47:39.090 --> 00:47:39.780
Ariel Kates: Thank you for.
00:47:41.100 --> 00:47:42.960
Ariel Kates: Sharing all of this.
00:47:47.160 --> 00:48:06.840
Ariel Kates: We have a question about the the neighbor who you and your mom stayed with we have there, there are a couple of questions that we have about food, how did you eat What did you eat however you fed by people without racing suspicion.
00:48:07.260 --> 00:48:19.860
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Well, these people had given us some food very little, but just to to to to survive, and we were there overnight and then.
00:48:22.470 --> 00:48:26.550
Ann Kliger Axelrod: The then they have this young boy, and he.
00:48:29.370 --> 00:48:43.710
Ann Kliger Axelrod: And friends downstairs that know me and you said that he needs some papers for me so i'll be able to get out of the ghetto, and one of the boys for two sisters person.
00:48:44.730 --> 00:48:47.970
Ann Kliger Axelrod: that's how I got out of you get to the third set.
00:48:54.930 --> 00:48:58.440
Ariel Kates: me saying yeah okay.
00:49:01.110 --> 00:49:02.340
Ariel Kates: Yes, good.
00:49:05.610 --> 00:49:06.510
Ariel Kates: So.
00:49:07.740 --> 00:49:09.540
Ariel Kates: Looking looking.
00:49:10.860 --> 00:49:12.510
Ariel Kates: forward into.
00:49:13.560 --> 00:49:23.130
Ariel Kates: intellect liberation what was what was your time, like in Italy and then how from there, did you end up in America.
00:49:24.540 --> 00:49:31.830
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Well, in, and I was in Italy, I was already married and my husband.
00:49:34.080 --> 00:49:43.080
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Also didn't like marketing business there they used to sell cigarettes, so the American soldiers and.
00:49:45.240 --> 00:49:56.490
Ann Kliger Axelrod: That that that's how he made that I made a living and you are there, almost five years.
00:49:57.900 --> 00:50:03.300
Ann Kliger Axelrod: And jack was born in Italy, so where's my daughter Leah.
00:50:04.410 --> 00:50:06.330
Ann Kliger Axelrod: And that.
00:50:08.010 --> 00:50:09.450
Ann Kliger Axelrod: We burn living.
00:50:11.280 --> 00:50:11.820
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Like.
00:50:13.350 --> 00:50:25.500
Ann Kliger Axelrod: buddy for buddy Have a nice life, their their Italian people are delicious food, there are so many horror stories they couldn't do enough for us.
00:50:26.790 --> 00:50:30.390
Ann Kliger Axelrod: And the neighbors very hey kid.
00:50:31.740 --> 00:50:32.250
Ann Kliger Axelrod: rented.
00:50:33.390 --> 00:50:40.830
Ann Kliger Axelrod: A Villa for families rented a Villa each family has a bedroom and.
00:50:43.350 --> 00:50:53.400
Ann Kliger Axelrod: The neighbor scrimping nicer to wash they heard our stories they couldn't believe it that this is what happened on the.
00:50:54.540 --> 00:51:01.080
Ann Kliger Axelrod: The Nazi occupation vicious was shoes it couldn't meet again.
00:51:01.980 --> 00:51:09.510
Rick Salomon: and building on what Ariel said what prompted you then was it the relatives who were in New York and brought you to.
00:51:10.920 --> 00:51:11.910
Rick Salomon: The United States.
00:51:12.960 --> 00:51:26.400
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Yes, as a matter of think they do so my husband's because the displays for persons have to have relatives in the United States to get it for them.
00:51:27.450 --> 00:51:30.330
Ann Kliger Axelrod: That they not be on the government's.
00:51:32.070 --> 00:51:36.690
Rick Salomon: I see, we have a question in the chat or What was your first memory and New York.
00:51:38.550 --> 00:51:53.730
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Well, the first memory was I came running up from this ship with my daughter and they're like she was only six months old and I saw the Statue of Liberty and that person to me the status.
00:51:55.980 --> 00:51:57.210
Ann Kliger Axelrod: honor or or.
00:51:58.950 --> 00:52:02.310
Ann Kliger Axelrod: happiness, to see the Statue of Liberty.
00:52:05.280 --> 00:52:08.490
Ann Kliger Axelrod: As i'm assuming that the whole time period.
00:52:09.780 --> 00:52:11.940
Ann Kliger Axelrod: To be able to see the Statue of Liberty.
00:52:13.380 --> 00:52:15.630
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Like I see she is now from them, you see.
00:52:19.710 --> 00:52:37.890
Rick Salomon: yourself, so, if I may Arielle a question in the chat what does it mean to you it's a good question to have not only a wonderful family but whoever sun and moon lead leading Holocaust Museum, which is you know looking out on lady liberty it's.
00:52:39.030 --> 00:52:39.360
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Like.
00:52:39.630 --> 00:52:40.050
What is that.
00:52:41.280 --> 00:52:58.320
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Every time being came to see him, and they were staying in the hotel across the street and our own words, right in the face the Statue of Liberty, they were always I was overwhelmed.
00:52:59.610 --> 00:53:01.710
Ann Kliger Axelrod: That I could see the Statue of Liberty.
00:53:02.820 --> 00:53:03.750
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Sit closer.
00:53:06.690 --> 00:53:13.650
Rick Salomon: A primary my wife hails from brooklyn she wanted to know you went to brooklyn where in brooklyn to give their.
00:53:14.730 --> 00:53:16.050
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Billions billions.
00:53:18.030 --> 00:53:19.080
Ann Kliger Axelrod: against it.
00:53:19.590 --> 00:53:20.040
00:53:22.020 --> 00:53:25.290
Ariel Kates: was your did your mother join you there as well.
00:53:26.790 --> 00:53:27.300
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Yes.
00:53:35.760 --> 00:53:39.420
Ariel Kates: So I think that the.
00:53:40.890 --> 00:53:48.900
Ariel Kates: Questions i'm, this is a great question to me, have you been back to Budapest.
00:53:49.350 --> 00:53:53.610
Ariel Kates: or yeah Italy Yes, that was that, like, for you.
00:53:54.000 --> 00:54:23.310
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Well, I ran back to Bruno pursue my shish Sir, and my cousin and the first thing we went we went to the cemetery because my father actually died in professionally an opportunity to bury him in the Jewish cemetery and we went to see my partner was stolen for him and my sister and I and.
00:54:25.050 --> 00:54:27.120
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Let me first it was.
00:54:28.920 --> 00:54:39.630
Ann Kliger Axelrod: heartbreaking but at the same time, it was never a good time to see that we can come back and show them that's restore buy.
00:54:40.770 --> 00:54:41.850
Ann Kliger Axelrod: me a year.
00:54:45.120 --> 00:54:46.200
Ann Kliger Axelrod: And you came back.
00:54:54.540 --> 00:55:01.830
Ariel Kates: yeah are the questions that we have left that I want to ask you are.
00:55:04.260 --> 00:55:12.360
Ariel Kates: There about your your face, and you know your it's the the the 30,000 foot.
00:55:15.720 --> 00:55:16.440
Ariel Kates: yeah.
00:55:18.300 --> 00:55:28.410
Ariel Kates: reflections that you might have we have questions about how your faith and your relationship to God and Judaism changed.
00:55:30.060 --> 00:55:34.500
Ariel Kates: Over over your life as, as you have experienced and.
00:55:34.530 --> 00:55:44.970
Ann Kliger Axelrod: process to your experiences, no, no, if anything, I believe in God, more than ever, because you fight for survival fish, it has to be God.
00:55:45.990 --> 00:55:53.250
Ann Kliger Axelrod: And I believe that you were supposed to be hit me was not going through through to.
00:55:54.390 --> 00:56:04.320
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Millions of other people, but they were screwed to me I survived, and I could have them ready for family and i'm grateful.
00:56:07.440 --> 00:56:11.610
Ariel Kates: Thank thanks yeah we have questions also about.
00:56:13.140 --> 00:56:23.760
Ariel Kates: If you have you know what you say to people who doubt the Holocaust what you what you wish for future generations.
00:56:24.630 --> 00:56:33.000
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Well, those who doubt the orcas don't don't know what they're talking about because it happened, and we are.
00:56:34.080 --> 00:56:50.370
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Living survivors and and thank God, quite a few you can show them that there was such a thing as our class, we had the pictures with your source and.
00:56:51.900 --> 00:56:52.710
Ann Kliger Axelrod: If they won.
00:56:53.760 --> 00:56:55.770
Ann Kliger Axelrod: They still don't believe it that's.
00:56:58.560 --> 00:57:01.530
Ann Kliger Axelrod: No problem that's their problem.
00:57:03.690 --> 00:57:14.040
Ann Kliger Axelrod: dad told me that they can do, he can he can see it now was born drinks and how it looks and.
00:57:16.200 --> 00:57:18.870
Ann Kliger Axelrod: He had done worse than the Ukraine to your course.
00:57:20.310 --> 00:57:27.810
Ann Kliger Axelrod: The day, but after us as you still don't just as as people who live in that country, but.
00:57:29.130 --> 00:57:32.970
Ann Kliger Axelrod: He has nearly double jeopardy, because.
00:57:35.160 --> 00:57:38.940
Ann Kliger Axelrod: The Ukrainian score to the toilet and Polish people in the.
00:57:40.560 --> 00:57:45.960
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Open i'm sure then nobody open denounce rush nobody.
00:57:48.480 --> 00:58:00.270
Rick Salomon: No wait every tearing your inspiration your creativity your courage your split second decisions i'll save your own life and the wonderful family that you built.
00:58:01.620 --> 00:58:11.640
Rick Salomon: I think that's a key lesson from all this for my sake i'm just going to say it's inspiring and as Mario said at the beginning it's so critical.
00:58:12.000 --> 00:58:23.310
Rick Salomon: it's stories like this from first generation survivors like you we've completed cutie as you are and and have need to be told, and so.
00:58:24.000 --> 00:58:36.540
Rick Salomon: i'm grateful to the Museum of Jewish heritage Arielle kate's and, of course, to jack leaguer your wonderful son for making this event possible and I just want to thank you and.
00:58:36.870 --> 00:58:46.680
Rick Salomon: I don't want to stop Arielle from asking another question or closing the program, but I just wanted to say that, and yes, people are asking this will and has been recorded.
00:58:48.120 --> 00:58:54.660
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Thank you, thank you very much you've been very good interviewer it was easy to talk to you.
00:58:55.680 --> 00:58:56.460
Rick Salomon: My pleasure.
00:58:59.340 --> 00:58:59.880
Ann Kliger Axelrod: glad.
00:59:00.420 --> 00:59:19.110
Ariel Kates: Thank you, thank you so much, and thank you so much rick for joining us it's it's a it's a real it's a real gift to to hear you tell your story and and to hear about all of the wild and incredible things that that have.
00:59:20.700 --> 00:59:21.780
Ariel Kates: have happened.
00:59:23.640 --> 00:59:27.720
Ariel Kates: Just In closing, I will say very briefly that.
00:59:28.830 --> 00:59:43.140
Ariel Kates: Everything we do at the museum is made possible through donor support so For those of you who are here with us, we hope that you will consider making a donation or becoming a member of the museum.
00:59:44.610 --> 00:59:51.930
Ariel Kates: And joining us also in our upcoming programs, which you can check out I just put a bunch of links in our chat.
00:59:53.670 --> 00:59:59.790
Ariel Kates: And we think everyone who has been here with us this evening.
01:00:00.870 --> 01:00:12.870
Ariel Kates: For your participation and your care and, we hope, thank you have a sweet evening and we will we will hope to see you again soon.
01:00:14.100 --> 01:00:15.090
Rick Salomon: hey well and.
01:00:15.750 --> 01:00:16.500
Thank you all.
01:00:17.760 --> 01:00:22.290
Ann Kliger Axelrod: Thank you, thank you for your help, and thank you for your kindness.
01:00:24.390 --> 01:00:26.820
Ariel Kates: Thank you take good care of everyone.
01:00:28.440 --> 01:00:28.890
Ann Kliger Axelrod: bye bye.
Hear from Other Hungarian Holocaust Survivors
Growing up in Hungary during the Holocaust, Erika Hecht was a “hidden child,” one of many Jewish children who were provided with false identities and survived the war as Christians. But when the village where they were hiding became a battlefield between the German and Soviet armies, Erika and her mother were forced to flee, hiding in damp cellars, seeking shelter on the porch of a house occupied by soldiers, and living in mountainside caves. This Museum program explores Erika’s experiences during the Holocaust and her struggle with identity, reinvention, and resilience.
Learn from Objects in the Museum’s Collection
In the spring of 1944, the Nazis began the deportation of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Carl Lutz was a Swiss diplomat stationed at the consulate in Budapest and he used his position as Vice-Consul to help as many Jews as he possibly could. Lutz was given permission to issue 8,000 protective documents to the Jews and he pushed that permission as far as he could. Learn more about Lutz and the protective letters in this Museum blog post.
Discover Jack Kliger’s Story
Jack Kliger is Ann’s son and President & CEO of the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. He was born in Florence, Italy before emigrating with his family to Brooklyn, New York at three years old. He served for more than a decade on the Museum of Jewish Heritage’s Board of Trustees before becoming President & CEO of the Museum in 2019. Learn more about Jack on the Museum’s website.