April’s Stories Survive program features Ann Kliger Axelrod. Ann 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, the photo of Ann above was taken by Hungarians at German headquarters in Budapest for her 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 will be interviewed by Rick Salomon, a co-founder of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center.

Rick Salomon 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. Salomon is also involved in a variety of other philanthropic organizations such as the Visas for Life Foundation, New York University’s Of Many Institute, the Interfaith Youth Core, and the Auburn Theological Seminary. Rick is the son of Holocaust survivors.

Stories Survive is a Museum of Jewish Heritage initiative that centers Holocaust survivors telling their stories in their own words. Survivors have much to share about their struggles and resistance, about antisemitism, and about the need to be up-standers in the face of all forms of bigotry. These stories allow our broader community to learn about Survivors’ experiences during the Holocaust and into the present.

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