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 Ann’s life changed forever. 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. Over the course of the war, Ann escaped from a transport to Bergen-Belsen with other children, and made her way to the Budapest ghetto, where she received false papers from a family friend. Using these papers, Ann was able to leave the ghetto in 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 Kliger, President and CEO of the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, and her daughter Lea were born. In 1948 the family moved to Brooklyn, New York, where the couple had their third child, Stella. Ann is survived by four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. May her memory be a blessing.