Day of Learning Speakers

Dina A. was only two when World War II broke out. She was sent into hiding in 1943 at fifteen years old. She moved to a town in the Netherlands not far from her own called Utrecht. There she stayed with a young couple and their newborn baby. Dina worked as a nanny under an assumed identity for the rest of the war.

Richard B. was born to a successful family in Pageri, a small village in South Sudan. When the country descended into civil war in the 1990s, and the government began bombing Pageri, Richard and his family fled to Uganda. After years living in different refugee camps he immigrated to San Francisco, where he graduated from Stuart Hall High School. He continues to reside in San Francisco with his wife and daughter.

Naira D. is a great-granddaughter of Armenian Genocide survivors.  Her great grandfather survived the death marches as a boy and was able escaped to Aleppo, Syria, and eventually settled in Beirut, Lebanon. Naira’s mother was born in Lebanon, but was forced to emigrate to the U.S. as a result of the Lebanese civil war. Naira attended Northern California’s only daily Armenian-American school, KZV Armenian School. A graduate of UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School, she is now an Associate Deputy Public Defender for Alameda County.

George E. was one year old and living in a Warsaw ghetto when Germany invaded Poland in September 1939.  George’s mother escaped from the Ghetto and placed him with a series of Polish Catholic families.  In 1945, George reunited with his mother.  They immigrated to the United States in 1949.  George went on to get a BS, MS, and PhD in Aeronautics & Astronautics and Nuclear Engineering from MIT.

Anita F. was born in Emmen, a small town in north Holland, but soon after her family moved to Breda.  A Dutch official gave Anita’s family false papers and they spent the war in hiding and apart under fake names—never breathing a word to anyone of their Judaism.  Her family was reunited in 1944 and they immigrated to the United States in 1952.  Anita went on to receive a MA from Harvard in Russian Studies as well as a PhD in Human Development.

Herb H. was born in a small town outside of Prague. In 1942, he and his family were deported to the Terezin Ghetto. In 1944, the family was transferred by cattle car to Auschwitz, where Herb worked as a messenger. In the winter of 1945, he escaped from the death march, returned to Prague, and stayed with a Catholic family he knew until the end of the war.

Channy L. was thirteen years old when the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia in 1975. Channy sought refuge from the genocide in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1979. She went on to earn undergraduate degrees, a Master of Science degree, and worked in Silicon Valley as an engineer in the Aerospace and Biotech industries for 30 years.

Gloria L. was born in Czechoslovakia. At fourteen, she and her family were deported to Auschwitz with the Jewish transports from Hungary. She survived seven camps, including Bergen-Belsen and Ravensbrück. Gloria began speaking publicly about her experiences more than twenty years ago, when she saw a brochure claiming the Holocaust never happened.

Eva O’s grandmother, Sonia Orbuch (z’’l), as a teenager resisted the Nazis. Escaping into the forest, Sonia joined a partisan unit and began a new life, accompanying fighters on sabotage missions. Sonia was determined to defeat the Nazis and their collaborators. Eva, a Bay Area social justice advocate and educator will share her grandmother’s story.

Jussi R. was born in Budapest.  When his family received an order for deportation, they hid in one of their bakeries.  Eventually they ended up in a ghetto until they were liberated in 1945 by the Soviet Army.  In 1956 Jussi went to Austria and eventually ended up in Sweden, where he lived for ten years.  Jussi immigrated to the United States in 1966.

Leon R. was born in Czernowitz, Romania and was ten years old when the Nazis invaded in 1941. He and his family were deported to a ghetto in the Transnistria region where they lived for three years until the liberation of the ghetto in 1944.  They immigrated to the United States in 1951.

Jeannette R. was born in 1939 in Amsterdam, Holland. Jeannette and her brother were sent away to hide with a non-Jewish family. In August 1945, she was “reclaimed” by her uncle and grandmother who had survived the war. Jeannette lived with her uncle, his new wife, and her brother until 1954 when they immigrated to the United States.

Ralph S. was born in Dresden, Germany in 1931. When he was seven years old, Ralph was sent alone on a Kindertransport to England to escape Nazi persecution. At the outbreak of war, he was evacuated to the English countryside to escape the expected bombing. Educated in England, Ralph immigrated to the United States when he was twenty-seven years old.

Suzanne S. is the daughter of Holocaust survivors.  Her father escaped Germany at age seven on the Kindertransport.  Her mother came to the United States as a baby fleeing Italy.  Suzanne was inspired to speak by current events, her father’s talks, and her family’s silence around their Holocaust stories throughout her childhood. Suzanne is a strategy and communications consultant who lives in Oakland with her husband and daughter.

Lori S. was born in 1925 in Vienna, where her family lived comfortably. After the Nazis invaded Austria in 1938, her immediate family scattered: her brother went to Rotterdam, her father to Shanghai, her mother to the United States, and Lori to London, at the age of thirteen. After two years in London, Lori was finally reunited with her family in New York.

Bihama V. was four years old when the Rwandan Genocide took place in his native country in 1994. After their mother died, Bihama and his two sisters crossed the border and became refugees in Uganda. Eventually Bihama came to the United States with his youngest sister; they are currently struggling to find a way to bring their other sister to join them. Bihama is a champion marathon runner.

AnneMarie Y. was born in Chemnitz, Germany. In the aftermath of Kristallnacht on November 9, 1938, AnneMarie’s father was imprisoned in Buchenwald concentration camp. After his release, she and her parents escaped to Belgium. After the Nazi invasion of Belgium in May 1940, AnneMarie’s father sent her to a convent to hide.

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