36th Annual Neuberger Holocaust Education Week
By Janice Gladstone, Principal
On November 3rd, Linden students had the opportunity to hear from Howard and Nancy Kleinberg, Holocaust survivors, and Holocaust Education Week Volunteer Guido Smit. The presenters were sensitive to the audience which included girls aged 9 to 17 who had varying degrees of knowledge about the Holocaust.
They told their compelling story clearly and with quiet drama. Howard started with his family’s tragic decision to remain in Poland rather than emigrate—a decision that cost many family members their lives. He sketched his horrendous journey through the Warsaw Ghetto, Auschwitz, Treblinka and Bergen-Belsen where he, on the verge of death, was pulled from the corpse-filled field by a young girl. She nursed him, but it wasn’t enough. In a desperate move to get medical help, he dragged himself into the street, collapsed, and was found by military medics. They took him away, and the girl who saved him did not know what had happened. She was devastated.
He spent six months recovering in the hospital and finally ended up in Toronto. Two years later, the girl who had rescued him, also arrived in Toronto and when he heard through the Jewish refugee grapevine that she was in town, he went to meet her, flowers in hand. This young woman was to become his wife—now of 66 years.
They have several children, grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren. She told her version of the story after he did. They became quite animated as they switched into the happy ending love story of their lives. They expressed profound gratitude that they had not only survived but did so to have a beautiful life together and start a new, thriving branch of the drastically pruned family tree.
They paused when we thanked them, to express gratitude to The Linden School students for listening so attentively to the talk and for being so clearly moved by the story. They were also moved and grateful to have the opportunity to connect with these children who represent the last generation of children who will have a chance to meet living survivors.
I was so grateful to them and the organizers of the program for their willingness to tell their deeply painful story. It’s so important for the world to remember.