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In this Stories Survive program, Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff explores her family’s journey of perseverance and escape from the Nazis, starting in her Nazi-occupied hometown of Kosice, Slovakia (then Czechoslovakia). Dr. Klein Kassenoff and her parents were rescued from Portugal in 1941, boarding one of the last ships to safety.

Watch the program below.

Stories Survive is made possible by the Goldie and David Blanksteen Foundation.

 

 

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.

Ari Goldstein: Alright, welcome everyone, my name is Ari Goldstein i'm Senior Public programs producer at the Museum of Jewish heritage, a living memorial to the Holocaust in New York City.

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Ari Goldstein: And it's a pleasure to welcome you to today's stories survive program with Dr Miriam Klein casting off.

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Ari Goldstein: A child survivor of the Holocaust, who was the founding director at the University of Miami Holocaust teacher Institute.

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Ari Goldstein: The education chairperson at the Holocaust Memorial in Miami beach Florida, and the education specialist for Holocaust studies for Miami dade county public schools.

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Ari Goldstein: In these roles she's responsible for all staff development and Holocaust teacher training for Miami dade county public schools.

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Ari Goldstein: Miriam is also a member of the US Holocaust Memorial museum Council of Holocaust centers and the creative founder of the screening the Holocaust film series, in cooperation with the Miami Jewish film festival.

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Ari Goldstein: During your presentation today, please feel free to share questions and comments and zoom chat and we'll address as many as we can and Q amp a period, towards the end of the program without further ado welcome Miriam thanks for being with us today and sharing your story.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Thank you so much Ari it has been a pleasure working with you and I want to thank the Museum of Jewish heritage in New York City for inviting me to be your guest presenter today.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: A little anecdote to start the day, it seems that here on Miami beach, of which i'm sure many of you have been watching the news of our spring bag revelers sometime around 10 o'clock last night.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Our entire building where I live, when black black black, in that the electricity went off to the point where I couldn't even find.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: The light that I needed this morning I woke up early worried and ran to my computer, to make sure that Internet was working so I could do this presentation of course it wasn't and it isn't.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: So you know it's really important to have good friends that save you and the first thing I did was one of my friends who's a member of your museum Ralph burger.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I happen to know was at his friends right across the street from me, so I texted quickly and said, please help I don't want to give up doing this lecture I need your help.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: And Sure enough, they picked me up invited me over here set me up a laptop which i've never used in my life.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: And here I am so I want to dedicate this presentation to my friend drew to bone and Ralph burger for being so kind to come to my aid so that I wouldn't have to cancel this today it's really, really my honor to be here.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Let me began on how I came to find out who I was, who I am and the journey that led me to discovery of how I alone with my parents and my infant brother escaped to where I am today in America.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I know that many of you have heard survivor testimony from my older brothers and sister survivors minus a little bit different.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Because mine is really a narration to you and i'll explain to you why it's a narration so please allow me in this time for the next 30 minutes or so.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: To read my story to you because there are so many dates and so many places that even if i've given the story for over 20 years I still need my script in front of me.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: So let me begin the first slide that you're seeing here is in memory of my family that's my father in the upper left hand corner.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: rabbi Maurice climb that's my mother Sarah Klein that's my brother Ted climb these of the street people I escaped with to the right was the last picture that was taken at one of my teacher institute's of my mother and me before she died she lived to 99 of blessed memory.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: How did I get Ahold of the story i'm going to tell you.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I about 2022 years ago was sitting at the Holocaust Memorial in Miami beach.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: and have little desk there because I do work with the school district here, but I also work with the University of Miami, but I also volunteer and i'm education chairperson at the Holocaust Memorial.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: And there was this book sitting on the table for me waiting for me along oblong turbo and, as I opened the cover I went oh my God.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I had known all my life that I had escaped as a five year old with my parents from Slovakia, I also knew that we had come on a ship called the co.to say bill, and that we had gone through Lisbon, but I didn't have the details and there in front of me was a picture of the ship.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: And underneath it it said for further information for those who might have been on the CEO down to say, though, in 1941.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: So he's contact the high yes and New York a Chai as the Hebrew immigration association society asked for Valerie bachelor I thought all right.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: i've done so much research, let me give this a chance to I call Valerie answered and I told him who I was what my name is today.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: And that I came on that show up and can he give me more information and he said wait a minute.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: i've been I think looking for you what's your name What was your maiden name and so forth, he said, let me get back to you, so I thought sure, and I hung up and sure enough 15 minutes later we got back to me next slide please alright.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: So today's presentation is not specifically about the Holocaust, the murder of the Jews of Europe, but certainly because of the Holocaust.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Yet it is more a story of escape hiding and being on the run from the Nazi Holocaust it specifically answer that often asked question why didn't they just lean as if it was easy.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: To do so, I have a story to tell you today it's a true story of fear, hiding running escape strength resilience and hope the next slide please sorry.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: and the next one.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: So when Valerie called me from the high eos, this is what he showed me or he on the phone told me about.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: He said to me, was your dad Maurice Klein, and I said yes, and he said was your mother Sally and I said no, no, no, no, no, no her name was Sarah.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: And is your name Mary was your name Mary I said nope you've got the wrong family, my name is don't marry it never was Mary and he said and who is chief bore and then I knew.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: That he had found my family I said that's my baby brother and he said, well, we have your arrival card here i've had it for a long time.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: And you were to be supported by the congregation had terrorists Israel in Chicago by your and and we have not been able to find you because we have all your paperwork.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Of the journey that you may, can you come to New York, we like to do this kind of thing in person, I was so shocked that I had been found.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: That it took me six months to even get it together to take a trip to New York and meet with Valerie when I met with him at the House office he handed me a huge stack of papers like this in a notebook and he said, this is your life running and hiding from the Holocaust.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: And we sat and talked the pores for quite a long time, when I came home, though I thought, what do I do with this i'm not really a writer, and at that time I didn't consider myself much of a researcher.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: But I knew that I had to put this story in some kind of order to understand that.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: So what I did was I took a portion of my apartment and I spread all the documents out on the floor and I started, putting them in chronological order by date and after a few months, I had everything in order by day, and then I sat down and I started writing the story.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Next slide please in the early 1930s my dad Moshe Klein was a young rabbinical student and Kush itself Czechoslovakia.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: In order to complete his education, he went to the prestigious moon catch your Sheba nearby or his me haha the rabbinic debris.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: near but far enough, that he had to live in long couch while there.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Besides, this may cause his goal was to bring home and Jewish bride to the client family and cush itself, where people have a client family equally weighted the event.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: including my grandfather rob of our home climb the head Rabbi of Costa tsa, which was a Hungarian city in 1938, then we can cash out by 1940 and then.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: By then, the Nazis had come into catia and most of the Jewish men in the Community were taken to Hungarian forced Labor army battalion camps.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: and put to a hard Labor by the Hungarian army trained by the Nazi mentality so back to the story.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: My dad heard, there were two beautiful sisters in the home of a rob David Schwartz and mongkok and they were twins hmm two beautiful women, why not.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: So, as the story goes my dad managed to get invited to the home of rob David Schwartz for shabbat.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: And there, he was able to enjoy the company of the city's beautiful twins lily and Sarah how could he tell them apart.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Only a romantic can know, but he fell in love with lily however lily did not fall in love with him, but she already had a boyfriend and mine.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: And so began what I called the conspiracy of the twins of them touch my aunt lily conspired with Sarah to pass my dad off to her.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: and up to the weeks prior to the marriage my dad never knew when he was finally told he shrugged and he said okay so we'll learn to love each other and they did for over 65 years.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: As the story moves on my dad brought Sarah home to push pizza to the client family next slide please, which was a very revered and respected family and cautious side, and there I am before playing.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I was born the firstborn name modica and then the winds of war, although my dad had gotten support papers from my mother's older sister bessie.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: who had married a visiting American student in one college and then she returned with him and the light 20s.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: And they were both now living in Chicago safely in the United States, but she was always watching the news and had always sent information to my dad.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: begging him to get my mother out, however, my mother would not entertain the thought in 1939 of leaving all she loved and new to go to a strange land.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Besides, she wanted another child who was born in March of 1940 Tibor, otherwise known today as the honorable judge Ted Klein.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Then, when the Nazis occupied Slovakia and 1939 and took all the leading man of the Community to the Hungarian concentration army Labor camps my mother realized her mistake, because my father was taken in front of me.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: and December of 1940 my father, a blessed memory rabbi Maurice climb managed to escape from the Hungarian Labor army.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: The Italian work camp shower brush clip calm, where he had been a prisoner for a few months, when he rushed home to his family in call sheets.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: It finally convinced my mother Sarah to embark on an escape route to Lisbon, Portugal, where there were ships waiting to take us to safety, if one could make the journey and such perilous times.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: And one had to have support papers these isn't hand and a reservation for ship.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: It seems that my dad without my mother, knowing it had made all those arrangements with my best in Chicago before he was taken to the camp.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: So reluctantly and with much fear Sarah agreed to leave questions and all she dearly love, knowing that if she did not my father would be recaptured and taken back to the Labor camp, what do I remember.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I remember her taking me to see her twin sister lily who had married the man that she loved and now also had two little children two little girls my age, and I remember her saying lily.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: we've got to go come with us don't stay here the Jews of your will be murdered.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: And I remember my aunt really saying Sarah i'm not going anywhere, what will happen to us here what happened to you, while you're running you're crazy i'm staying.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: And that was the last time my mother I ever saw my aunt millie her twin sister again.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: So my mother took me Monica a small child for and my newest brother Tibor only nine months old and, along with my parent Father both of them only 33 years old.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: live in December 1940 from Russia tsa and all we knew to all we did not yet no place to look at this map.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Look, where it says December 1940 we had to go alone, we were not with varian fry or any other rescuers all the way over to.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: This one Portugal, where we were to board, not the CEO dod disable at that time we had reservations for another ship which I will tell you about in a minute.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: But that one was due to leave in late March or April so it's December 1940 We certainly had time if everything worked out all right to get there, however here's the timeline of what happened.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: November 1940 my dad escapes the camp.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: 1940 December we begin our journey.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: My dad returned home to push it so he retrieve the visa papers, the passenger reservation to board the new jasa ship do to leave Lisbon on April 15 1941 so we had to be in Lisbon by that day whitelist them.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Because, as Neil Walker in his book war in the shadows of the city of lights says, and I quote, if you wanted out of Europe during World War Two all signs point to Portugal.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: The same was true if you were a spy and wanted in the leader of Portugal, Salazar saw the refugees as a hugely complicating factor.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: He was trying to maintain portugal's neutrality, but fear to German invasion, so the neutral and so led by like zombies are.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: managed to play the world powers off each other and avoid invasion Lisbon was the bottleneck of Europe, it was the last chance to get out does that were desperate too.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: crowded in the streets of Lisbon Marion kaplan her example hitler's Jewish refugee says that quote Lisbon Portugal quickly became the port of departure from the continent, if one could negotiate the complex steps of getting there.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: And the quote so a sample of the complexities, is what we face, whereas we were rushing and running to make the deadline of our visa enter papers and the Lisbon Portugal.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: which expired in January, due to train delays and many more unexpected events we miss the deadline by two days.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Does we arrived in the border town of Bajo Spain on January 20 1941 and we found ourselves hopelessly and frustrating we stopped in our journey.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: We were sent the the border guards also we're playing a neutral game and often they're police leaning more towards supporting the Nazi regime, sometimes allowed Jews passage of many times, depending on the border guard that one would encounter.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: According to my mother's testimony of a particular experience Jews were often turned back so in our case, we were going to be turned back.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Until my mother somehow figured out a way to get one of the border guards to be kidding our small family.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: so out of some testing for our small family my mother managed to beg that instead of being arrested or sent back to Slovakia.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: To allow us to at least stay in a hotel until we could get some more money and papers in order and she managed with my father to bribe the guard also best we found ourselves entered in a hotel, with no money and nowhere to turn for help.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: My dad made friends very easily wherever he went and so by chance, he made friends in the hotel with a non Nazi German tourists who took great pity on us and told my dad he would help him.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: He I do not know his name dictated in his words to my dad to write this letter to the Jewish community in Lisbon, and then promised my dad he would get it delivered.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I say in his words because I had to figure out that although this is my dad's handwriting the verbiage is not my dad's it's not the way he wouldn't talk.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Let me read the translation of this very important letter and document of history, it would have been a letter, like any refugee trying to escape my deliberate and or how.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: The letter was dress to the Jewish aid society that's what he Paul but that's what the German knew it and he didn't know that it was called hi Yes, that was the Lisbon.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: And Honorable Jewish aid society, we are a Jewish family from hungry on the way to the United States of America.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Because the American Council in Budapest gave us a travel visa because I have been accepted as a rabbi in Chicago.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Unfortunately, the Portuguese visa ran only to the 18th of January, and because of train delays which have consumed days we only arrived here on the 20th in this border city and we can't proceed a new quarter.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: The Portuguese Council here sent with this patch on January 20 to Lisbon, please requesting the extension of our visa.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Because we do have flipper tickets and therefore have secured a trip to America, but we have received no answer this part is extremely difficult for me to read as an adult knowing how my parents felt about me and my brother.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: We are here with two small children a four year old girl and a baby boy of 10 months the children are suffering from hunger.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: We are used to hunger, but it's tragic to see how it affects the innocent children, hence if it is possible, please help your Jewish brothers, because the situation is getting desperately tragic.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: We are not even a situation to pay for the hotel, because our money is gone, we have some money in the Lisbon bank or we can't get to the money because we can't get to Lisbon rabbi Maurice climb on crusher hungry.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Perhaps you could intervene with the police on our behalf in order to complete the process our freedom of movement is limited, we are entered in the hotel in our room we're not allowed out.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: sees attempt my Jewish brothers, to help us in whatever way you can we are here in the hotel there's no sound is.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: And as you can see from the letterhead, perhaps you could telephone me that would be very generous of you receive my greetings my Jewish brothers rabbi Maurice Klein hotel now see illness and by default, I think this is an extremely important document.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Well, it appears from the chronology of this letter that we were very soon after allowed to enter Lisbon.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: It is now February 15 1941 we finally arrived in Lisbon after running throughout Eastern Europe always one step ahead of the Nazi occupation, we had gone through Hungary Yugoslavia, Italy, France and Spain, always justice we left the country on the heels of Nazis coming into the country.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Where I just read to you have our plight, we were detained, I was four years old them and my new infant brother Tibor was nine months old when we began our journey of escape.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Not an easy task for a mother and father to do we had been on the road for three months and, as previously mentioned, then they asked the ship was leaving on April 15.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: So we had time to make the ship, for which we had verified passage just not the entire paper ticket, we were to discover, which was at that time $1,000.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: In addition, we now had one more serious problem, our visa entry papers to the United States expired on march 13 so once again, we had to get new visa papers which had to be acquired if we were going to make that April 15 departure of the NASA.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: The lines of the console office in Portugal, along with other refugees in the same dilemma, what are we to do.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: My parents had heard rumors possibly circulated by police that the refugees might be sent back my mother was very worried about that the high ass offices had relocated and Lisbon from France in June 1940 they set up long lines for waiting for the refugees who were in the same position.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: During the year of 1939 there was, among many other offices throughout the world, a high os office in Paris, but in June 1940 when the Nazis occupied France they moved the office to Lisbon.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: It has now February 15 April to April 28 1941 The next step was to help house the refugees, while waiting our visas and other papers, including money for passage.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: We were put in a small tourist hotel on the outskirts of Portugal, my mother Sarah remembered it well we're in the chaos and for it was a pleasant.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: place to stay, except for the constant anxiety and fear, she felt of the unknown for me as a child my memories are much anxiety fear insecurity.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Listening to my parents speaking in the addition Hungarian about what would become of us the local Jewish community of list them out about 1500 to 2000 meet people there.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: and their leaders convince the authorities to place us some fancy owns on small hotels, by the way.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I was to find out and all my research that many other famous dignitaries that you know of in history or and less than waiting with us, at the same time, to name a few.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Marc Chagall the artist Heinrich mom the writer on a rent the writer philosopher Peggy guggenheim the famous art of seal nado and I just discovered in Fleming, and many others.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Interestingly enough, if you research their bibles none of them says anything about their Lisbon experience it just says they fled Europe.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: What follows them in this period of time from February 15 of April 18 comes from Valerie buzzer Alvin I am indebted to him and to hire us for giving me these documents.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: it's now March.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: The Lisbon highest office from the Chicago office finally got the thousand dollars needed for the passage on the ship which we had reservations.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Then they asked it departure, remember, was to leave April 14 1941 but as we watch from the shoreline it's left without us because the new visa entry papers to get into the United States had not arrived.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: That I asked was trying to get the funds together, not only for the thousand dollar passage money from my aunt in Chicago, but they also needed an additional $300 for processing fees which evidently they were trying to do not only for us, but for thousands of other Jews who are waiting.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: march 21 1941 the money for the ship arrives for our ticket April 15 the ship leaves without us because our entry papers for United States did not arrive, what are we to do we could only stay and listen for a short period of time.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Once again, my dad mother had to now make new decisions and plans anything, not to have to return to the unknown, although my mother told me.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: She would have been very glad at this point to take her two small children and go home or she fleetingly even thought about giving us away to a Jewish family in Portugal.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: April 28 1941 the visa entry papers finally arrived, but the NASA has already left now we're waiting and waiting for another ship finally.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: May 15 we board the CEO does this say bill, the high yes in the American joint distribution had arranged this passage.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: It was a huge passenger cargo liner one of the last few shifts to leave Lisbon carrying dues to safety in 1941 had been just six months later January 1942 the final solution was plan to murder all the Jews of Europe, we had made it just in time.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: May 30 we stop in Cuba for 24 hours and some passengers get all.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Finally, June 3 1941 although my dad did not keep a diary of the trip, I have my mother and father's memories and my own.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I read an incredible book that I want to give credit to for the quotes that i'm going to give you it's called the bridal chair.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: it's a story about either shut down the artist chagall's daughter, who is on the novel mar, which was also sailing to America, as I was on the co.so i'm going to quote from the bridal chair.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: The dangerous that lay ahead, from the moment they left Lisbon and boarded the ship assaulted the passengers from the first day it's see.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: room is circulated there was a shortage of drinking water and passengers panicked as just drop mother's worried about their small children.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: The ship could not sail a direct course as the German navy had turned the Atlantic Ocean into a maritime battlefield.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: submarines lurked beneath rising and falling waves stocking freighters some passenger ships, the seas turn turbulent and the ship plowed through storms heaving dangerously from from side to side.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Many were sick from the turbulence and when the storms sided and the sea was calm the observant Jews were seeing on the deck as my father was putting on his telly.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: prayer shawls and praying to God for us to safety, after all, we had been through just not to die on the ship and be thrown into the Ocean and the quote.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: My mother was terrified not letting me out of her sight all this, I remember with clarity I do remember, I read now quote again from her book one morning.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: A flock of goals appeared swooping down that sailing gracefully on the press the phone laced waves girls said the passengers, we must be approaching land and.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Our family realized New York, we had arrived safely in the harbor of New York and then New Jersey hoboken, to be specific alright, can you hear me.

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Ari Goldstein: Yes, marine.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: arrival in America June 3 1941 we disembark into the turmoil of immigration answering questions pushing crowded handing over documents officials asking questions my dad is desperately searching for our papers my mom is grasping my hand for dear life holding my infant brother and.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: My mom and dad are searching endlessly in the crowd for familiar face for my aunt for someone to help us where to go what to do, I feel embry my parents fear.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: And i'm afraid to no one's there to greet us my aunt did not receive notification time for her to make plans to leave Chicago many of us were in the same situation no money left no family to meet us strange new lamb we can't speak the language.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Finally, after about two weeks, my aunt from Chicago arrived and we left the shelter to begin our new lives in America, it was June 1941.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: The world and American jewelry did not yet know the horrors and the fate that awaited the rest of European Jews who are not as lucky, as we were.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: But they would know soon all too soon, so what became a client family left behind and kosher some.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Of the 15,000 Jews of cush it's up 12,000 were immediately gassed upon their arrival on a transport in 1944 Auschwitz, the same transport le resolve was on the client family survived by hiding in an attic.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: In the crusher together.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: And then the caves in the forest of Slovakia, aided by Gentile rescue, which is another story for another time.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: My grandfather grandmother aunts and uncles all survived and how well, I remember seeing my grandfather, and my grandmother after the war, getting off a plane in New York and my grandfather with his hasidic car bending to the ground and kissing it.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: 300 Jews who had fled and survived before the last transport return to cush itself immediately after the war, among them six of the client family who all ultimately emigrated to Israel olivia and the United States.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: But no, we were never just see my mother's twin sister lovely and her family ever again.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: We of course already saved here in the United States, so what happened to our little family.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: My parents wanted an American child as soon as possible, so my brother hand Klein arrived in 1944 today a prominent respected member of the business community in Miami Florida.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I became who I am today a Holocaust educator writer teacher trainer speaking all over the country giving this testimony.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: T bar the infant Tibor was appointed a federal judge by President Bush and 2041 of the few child survivors of the Holocaust on the federal bench.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: The late Honorable judge tech Klein, you can imagine the joy in my family my mother literally Veld, every time she said, my son the judge.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: And then in 2006 tragedy struck Ted suddenly died I wouldn't unknown lung disease at the age of 64 after slapping him throughout Eastern year for eight months I had to go tell my 96 year old mother that she had lost.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: My dad a blessed memory was the associate rabbi a temple Emanuel in Miami beach rabbi Maurice time he died on Russia in 2002.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: My dear mother Sarah the matriarch of the family was 99 years old, when she died in 207 a few months after Ted no she did not die of old age, but of heartbreak over lucic her son the judge.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: She lived on Miami beach and was the Queen of the Lincoln road ma her final comment, as they showed her these documents before she died.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: And I asked her what did you think of all this research, I had done was simply in her Hungarian excellent darling I think me still owe the highest $300.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: So it seems, as I stand before you, I am the only one left in this little family of four who ran kid and escape the Holocaust still stay.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Why have I been spared in these last years of deep losses I don't know, but I must only sin is to keep telling the tale to speak for murray's Sarah and Ted until my voice will no longer be heard, and you are then charged with telling the story for me.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: For us, my final comment, as I once heard a refugee child survivors say experience and my parents is woven through the fabric of myself and I am compelled to tell it to the world, thank you for listening to me share the story with you today.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: And so I will end there.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I know that our he wants to be time for questions, so I can explain that last slide somehow during the questions but.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: This worked I didn't know if it was here, I am not at my comfortable apartment at my friends and using a laptop that i've never used and i'm thrilled that I had the opportunity.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: To do this, I also want to thank my friend Ellen greenberg who introduced me to you are a and made the arrangements that I would be able to tell the story or the Museum of duty heritage which by the way, I was there for the open about museum.

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Ari Goldstein: And we're all moving we're nearing the 25th anniversary, well, I echo my thanks to Ellen and you're in there was so moving.

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Ari Goldstein: An interesting to hear your story I do want to take audience questions, but let me if it's alright with you put up that final slide now, so you can explain it before we move on to other questions that people have.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: OK, so the reason I think this slide is important, is, I think most of us always wonder.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: What.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: What and this answers a question, do I have any errors.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Whether our children are listening and you know, I have a grown Sunday bed and attorney Sunday attorney i've grown son a daughter debbie and I have grandchildren.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: And I know that they're proud of me, and what I do, and that they are listening, but really shocked me was one morning I opened my email after my mother died, and there was this email for my son and.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: He had written mom.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I know today's an important day and I couldn't register why he said that and I said why, and this is what he wrote, he said.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Yes, today's the day I don't have a candle work, it was on my mother's side, a year after she died, but.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: or no, not a year after maybe because I seats to enable but I set aside a few quiet moments to let the memories flow in my most vivid memory of her is the first time she told me the story.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: of escaping from Europe, until then, it always seemed to me that she was just so quiet submissive and your old school European ways.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I was probably only 11 or 12 or when she told me the story, it was riveting she was suddenly as powerful and strong and the way she spoke as she must have been helping to guide your family through that time.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: So I never knew that my son had that conversation with my mother and here that's the intergenerational we find out things from our children from my grandchildren and it looks like David does carry on the story or that he is.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: In that involved in it so.

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Ari Goldstein: How amazing that you have champion so much Holocaust education, work in the Miami area.

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Ari Goldstein: that's a reflection of your own family's experience.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: yeah yeah you know I believe in fate and I, I think that was destined to do this, which is why I made every effort to come over here today across the street.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I when I got to America, I was the only one in the family who spoke English, so I played teacher every night when it came home from school.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I was already five and six, when we arrived here and I made my parents sit down a little room, with a little chalkboard and I would teach them everything I had learned, thus became.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: The root of my being an English teacher, I have a master's degree in language arts and so I thought well that's fine I was happy being an English teacher, but then.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: An opportunity came up.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: 27 years ago with the American survivor gathering survivors of the Holocaust in New York, where Ben have a lot to me the leaders of the Warsaw ghetto were still living and they were choosing 30 teachers.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: To take to Israel to lock on me i've got too old to learn how to teach the holocaust of Jewish resistance and I was the Florida teacher they chose them that turned my whole career and life around as a matter of fact, than the New York Times yesterday.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: or the other day, there was an article by the author Judy battalion, who has just written a book on women in the Holocaust and.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: she mentions of a lot to me and I wrote to the New York Times, I said that's what trained me and started me on my road of.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Being a professor of education for Holocaust for training teachers and they printed it, so I was kind of proud of that.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: So I think I was destined to do and i'm doing and still doing it that's what i'm proud of that, we have a superintendent.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: And a staff at the school board and Miami dade the third largest school district in America that feels that even though i'm at my age.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: That i'm worthy enough to still be teaching and training and be employed, and I think that's really a role model for women, that we can continue to do what we want to do as long as we have the support, as I do.

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Ari Goldstein: Absolutely Miriam there's a question here from allison he says, can you please talk a little bit about going into schools with your story what age groups, do you normally speak to and what's their response.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: that's an excellent question, so I still now virtually will speak to students, but my main task for the past 1015 years is that I teach I run seminars and teacher training institutes, which I hope your participants will join this June we're having our 20th.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I will go into upper middle and high school with my story because remember i'm not giving a testimony like most Holocaust survivors do from their memory i'm reading.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: sort of an academic script and I feel that it's very important to.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: To have the students be engaged and learning about this piece of history and understanding the dates and the journey and i'm not so sure I I definitely don't think.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: it's for elementary I I speak mainly to middle high school college i've been doing a lot of college classes virtually and a lot of organizations.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I did Salem state college, the other night and.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: So I find that my particular story is best for upper middle and high school.

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Ari Goldstein: Year and here's another question you are among the youngest survivors left to share their stories, what do you see as the future of Holocaust education.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Well i'm also one of the Holocaust educators of things to futures excellent i'm very engaged with many organizations that I think are doing an incredible job of podcast education.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Namely right there where you are to recharge museum, you have an incredible curriculum that people can access.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Every major.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Center in America has got curricula they've got survivor speakers that you can go on their website and hear the show up foundation is doing an incredible job, the United States Holocaust Museum yeah and my show them.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I have colleagues in Pittsburgh classroom without borders if anyone's doing an incredible job, and I think Holocaust education is very strong.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: it's in great demand, there are waiting lists for college classes, we have at least 10 electives just in the Holocaust alone.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: in Miami dade county schools, I know the broward and palm beach county have been doing a supper job my colleagues up in Tampa at the temple Holocaust Museum.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: The Holocaust documentation Center the Holocaust Memorial, I think that whole coast, education is an excellent hands and i'm not in the least worry about it.

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Ari Goldstein: it's a very heartwarming and exciting response for those of us in the audience to hear, because you know this so well.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Well i'm a little tired of all the criticism about it, for example, when they come out with all these statistics that the millennials don't know where our switches or they can't name five ghettos, can you name five ghettos off the top of your head.

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Ari Goldstein: While I work in Holocaust Museum, but I.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I mean these questions are ridiculous see surveys to go around have strangers and say, can you name five ghetto some law because, of course, they can that doesn't suggest that there isn't enough Holocaust education going on absolutely not I disagree with some of the surveys.

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Ari Goldstein: that's an important perspective, I know that we were heartworm last year by survey that that looked at visits to Holocaust museums and a correlation to.

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Ari Goldstein: Holocaust knowledge and the conclusion of the survey was people who go to Holocaust museums, end up having deeper knowledge about semitism and Holocaust later in life, and it seems sort of obvious but it isn't necessarily so, it was an important affirmation of the work that we do we.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: have hundreds of students going through our whole cost memorial here every day, except for the pandemic this year.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I I I guess you can see i'm very frustrated about all this it's it's really.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: You know people say to me while you're in your bubble you're down in Miami and you're doing this great job, but you don't know that up in North Dakota or South Dakota or in some midwestern well that's not true.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: We have Holocaust education advocates in almost every state in the United States are working very hard to present Holocaust education programs I just had lunch here yesterday with.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: A colleague from Philadelphia that has just now make connections with the Philadelphia school district to do PDS and professional development, with them.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I think Holocaust education is doing a good job, I think the teachers of doing good job, I think that, as I say, I, I have no concerns that it'll be okay after the survivors gone, which is a phrase that I hate because i'm still here.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I keep telling people don't.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Introduce that to survivors will salt still be God i'm still here, and yes there's excellent Holocaust education in Canada i'm very good friends with.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Maryland Sinclair in Toronto, she is doing an outstanding job and they're even having a whole week and may live 75 liberation 75 of speakers and workshops and classes, so you can't tell me that there's a problem with our passage cave.

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Ari Goldstein: right on mean I want to transition for a moment there's a question here from Denise.

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Ari Goldstein: To understand more deeply your journey from Slovakia, the list and were you on trains, how did you actually get to Portugal.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: So you know what that's a really good question and a part of it is a mystery that bothers me what I told you, is what I know.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: What I told you, is what I repeat that and that comes from years of research, what I don't know is where did we sleep at night huh where did we have dinner, who gave us food where did we eat.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I mean I don't mean to sound trivial but i'll never forget once dude and I think, who had a new baby brother said, where did your mom get diapers for the baby sounds trivial but.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I can know now I have worked with top scholars.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Dr rosettes in yada sham doesn't wonderful talk Google him Robert rosetta about the Hungarian fascists Labor camps and how it was possible to escape.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I only can tell you that we did take trains almost the whole time because I remember losing my dad from one train to another it's one of the dark memories that I have the one thing that.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Somehow my dad got on one train and my mom and I am the baby got on another, and I can still hear in my ears constantly my mother screaming multi Smarties that are you are you we lost Daddy.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: And we felt.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: So I do have that memory of trains darkness night the train sound I don't know in the journey of the seven eight months, where we slept at night I would love to find out and i'm not through researching.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: to the point where I even when I was in Washington before the pandemic went to the museum and did a research through the Barroso in archives and we found a woman named lily.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: berkovitz because she married her boyfriend Joseph for college who might be my aunt but there were two or three lily burka witches and what we found the one that matches the closest was that she was sent to Auschwitz her family was killed the babies my twin my cousins.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: And was last seen wandering around a dp.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: And that's as close as i've got into finding really I will say, though, that.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: as good a family, as my mother had as happy as she was with Maurice the wrong guy.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: With the pride that she had of the three of us my brother became a judge and so forth.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Her yearning and longing for her twin sister.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: was present inevitably every day of my life, and I only.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: That.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: she's with her.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I hope that Lillian Sarah are together.

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Ari Goldstein: Miriam Have you ever gone back to close each or Lisbon to retrace the steps of your journey.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: So I did go back to push it was quite a trip.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I have not been to Lisbon, but guess what on one of these programs I got an email from this lovely woman named Dara jeffries and she said, dear Miriam.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I grew up in Lisbon i'm the head of the Jewish community and Porto, and I live part time in Miami beach near you and i'm going to make sure that you're invited to give this talk and just about.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: A month ago she called me and said guess what I bought your ticket we're going the day after Yom Kippur.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: And you're going to speak in Lisbon and Porto and tell your story so beautiful things have come out of these programs really and I can't wait, because I want to see where I came from yeah.

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Ari Goldstein: Oh that's very exciting, well, we wish you easy and safe travels hopefully as the pandemics sides and i'm sure will be very meaningful return to Portugal.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I say you have so many questions and chat I was hoping.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: That you'll be able to send them to me so that I can see what people ask, and I do want to mention that I will be moderating a film called a dance for the angel of death, the story of Dr.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Egon.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Eckert occur, and she was born and crush it so as I was, but she ended up in Auschwitz.

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Ari Goldstein: Will so today's program is being recorded and everyone watching, we will send out a recording of this presentation, along with some suggested resources, so will include the link to.

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Ari Goldstein: The panel Miriam is moderating that the end up either story also the book Marion kaplan's book and some of the other resources, she mentioned and it's great to see people in the audience who someone is Hungarian.

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Ari Goldstein: margaret's mother in law shared similar experience to your mother Miriam so it's these connections are beautiful.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I want to thank you for being an absolute gentleman and bearing with me this morning, when I called you and said oh my God I don't know what to do my internet's down.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: don't worry I don't speak Hungarian anymore I, it was my native language, the only thing I can say now, I see that as a question is me he knows which means, how are you.

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Ari Goldstein: Well, I guess, if you could say farewell and in Hungarian, then that would be a good.

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Ari Goldstein: Closing because we're just about it, good luck to status be satisfied with Shalom.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: Shalom and.

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Ari Goldstein: We are we're very grateful for you spending your time with us today, for making this work, even with it wi fi snafu your story is so meaningful and I know I learned a lot as to the audience, so thank you again and.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: They wish.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: They had lost with you.

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Ari Goldstein: Today, you know.

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Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff: I said in my kiss farewell to everyone that's the Hungarian kiss.

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Ari Goldstein: Already alright Thank you again everyone for joining us thank you Miriam have a good afternoon.

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bye bye.