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January 06, 2009

Fanny Judelowitz, Survivor: Speaker for the Holocaust Remembrance Program

Image Source: http://www.kenton.k12.ky.us/holocaust/SeeingisBelieving.GIF

4 April 2007


Fanny Judelowitz was born in Liepaja, Lativa on October 27, 1922. She was the oldest of three girls born to a Jewish family in this Baltic seaport where a large Jewish community once existed. Fanny . . .

. . . attended a Jewish primary school there and her parents owned a shoe store and a small factory that made shoes.

She, like Dawid Sierakowiak, endured the horrors of the Holocaust. If you attended the's 8:00 vigil in the Oak Grove last Thursday, or Gerta's documentary film as part of the Holocaust Remembrance Program in Shafer Hall (4/18/07) please share your insights and how Gerta's experience compares to Dawid's.


Dr. Hobbs


To see other English-Blog entries on the subject of Holocaust Studies, please click HERE

Posted by lhobbs at January 6, 2009 09:12 AM

Readers' Comments:

Lyndsay Krall
Instructor Lee Hobbs
ENGL 121 Humanities Literature
18 April 2007
Holocaust Extra Credit Assignment
On Wednesday April 18, 2007 I attended the Holocaust Remembrance program at Schafer Hall. When I first arrived, we were taken as a group into a separate room where we were showed a documentary film about a Holocaust survivor named Greda Weissmann. Greda was 18 years old when the invasion had begun. Greda’s older brother Arthur, along with all other able-working men between the ages of 16-50 years old were forced to sign up to be drafted for labor work. Arthur was chosen and deported to a labor factory and never saw his family again. After that, the Weissmann family was forced to live in their basement, which Greda described as having no running water, no electricity, and as being very cold and gloomy. On June 29, 1942 Jewish women and children were gathered for deportation. The German soldiers made the women and their children form a single-file line. Greda and her mother stood holding hands, when one of the officers looked directly at her and said, “How old”. Greda replied to the man “eight-teen”, and it was at that moment she had realized that she and her mother would be separated. Greda, along with many other young women her age were then deported to a slave labor factory, where she spent nearly the next three years of her life. On January 29, 1945 what were known as the “death marches” had began. It was called a death march because it was the Germans way of getting rid of any human witnesses to the horrible crimes that had been committed. The women were divided into two groups, and of the 2000 women that had begun the march, approximately 150 women had survived. The death marches had lasted until the spring of 1945, when American troops had come to put a final end to the destruction of the Jewish people whom were at the hand of Adolf Hitler. An American soldier named Kurt Klein proceeded to help Greda. Greda had come to find that Kurt Klein was also a Jew, but his parents had moved him to safety in the United States in the year 1937. Greda and Kurt had married and had three children.
After the film was shown, we were then taken into a separate room where we were served holocaust food. We were given very little amounts of bread pieces, unsalted crackers, and cups of water. This was what the Jewish people were served, however, not saying that they were fed on an everyday basis. Greda had said that by the end of the holocaust, she weighed about 68 pounds and had white hair, Greda was twenty-one years old at this point of her life.
What I learned about Greda reminded me much about Dawid Sierakowiak and his family. It seems that much of the things that Dawid wrote about were very similar to things that Greda had talked about in this film.

Posted by: Lyndsay Krall at April 19, 2007 10:23 AM

Professor Hobbs,

During this document that we watched it was based on the survival of one woman who survived the “death march.” This death march consisted of 2000 women marching to a certain location and only 150 of those women survived. The only remaining survivor living today is Gerda Wesissman. She was also the only person in her family to survive the Holocaust. In this document we learn about her life story from the day her brother, father, and mother were separated from her.

It all started when World War II began and cities were being taking over by the German army. By Christmas her family was forced to move into the basement of their house, because everything was turned off. Which is similar in David’s case because they were without heat or electricity either. On June 28, 1942 Gerda experienced the worst of life, when it was the last time she would ever speak to her mother or father again. However, for Gerda, the most difficult death to cope was the loss of her brother, Arthur. Also this was the day that would alter her life for ever when she and her mother parted ways and Gerda went left into a truck and her mother went right. At this moment, reality sunk into Gerda and she knew that things were coming to an end for her and her family. She tried jumping off her truck and a soldier stopped her and said, “your to young to die, so you must stay here.” From then Gerda was going to face the hardest battles of her life. For three years she and other women were forced into working under horrible conditions. Likewise, in the DDS they both faced the same problems: hunger, starvation, loss of family, and hope.

There were two points from this documentation that I learned that struck me to be very interesting and ironic. First, Gerda stated from the first time she met her instructor in the factory she said that, “not all Germans are cruel and evil.” Secondly, I thought the end of the documentation was a true romance. When liberation occurred Gerda met her hero, Kirt Klein, who also turned out to be the love of her life.

From watching this documentation I can apply certain parts of her journey to the DDS. They both experienced the loss and separation of family members, however David wasn’t as lucky as Gerda was. However, both experiences were similar because these two individuals were put through so much pain physically and emotionally. They both were strong and courageous and they looked back on what their parents taught and told them, which gave them the strength to live a day longer. They used different methods of survival to get through the hunger. Gerda would use her imagination and be creative about different scenarios. David on the other hand, would focus on reading and writing a journey, which got him by the days without any food.

At the end of the documentation we discussed how the Holocaust affected people today and how we can learn not to repeat the past. We also experienced what the food proportions were like. We were given water, bread, and unsalted crackers. Overall, from watching this documentation I learned a lot of valuable information based on Gerda Wesissman’s life that I could apply to David’s life.

April Hunsberger

Posted by: April Hunsberger at April 19, 2007 03:04 PM

Rebecca Shenkle

Holocaust Documentary Film
This film was about a fifteen year old girl named Gerta Weissmann. Gerta was a victim of the Holocaust. Gerta was fifteen years old in 1939, the same year her nineteen year old brother left home because of the war. By Christmas of that year, the rest of Gerta’s family (her mother and father and herself) had to move down to the basement of their house where there was no running water available to them. In June of 1942, Gerta’s father was deported. Only a couple days later, Gerta and her mother was deported and separated from each other forever. Gerta was loaded into the back of a truck. She had tried to jump out, in order to stay with her mother, but a man grabbed her and said to her, “You’re too young to die,” and threw her back into the truck. Gerta was assigned to work in a slave factory with other young women that produced fabric for the German soldier’s uniforms. She stayed there for a little over a year. Next, Gerta spent three years in a camp along the German-Polish border. Then, the “death marches”, as she called them, started in January. For three months, 2,000 girls marched, being exposed to the frigid weather and being starved to death. Only 150 girls actually survived the death marches. In the spring of 1945, the death marches ended. The SS guards that had been watching over the girls abandoned them and the girls were free. Kurt Klein was among one of the soldiers that helped liberate the surviving girls. In June of 1946, Gerta and Kurt were married. They now live in Phoenix, AZ, and have three children and eight grandchildren.
I really enjoyed watching this film. It was very sad, but had a happy ending. It was interesting to see the Holocaust from yet another point of view other than Bernard Offen and Dawid Sierakowiak. It’s amazing that three people involved in the Holocaust all had such different experiences.

Posted by: Rebecca Shenkle at April 21, 2007 11:23 AM

Professor Hobbs,
After viewing the documentary, I came back to my room and put down some thoughts. What follows is the summation of said thoughts:

Historical Darkness
The Holocaust through the eyes of someone who lived through it becomes that much more powerful than any written history. Seeing the grief streak across the face, the sudden bouts of pain, the bitter laughter at memories now saddened by loss compile into a moving experience that the written word upon a page can never amount to. The speaker in the documentary was one of the lucky ones who survived the hateful years of World War II to be liberated by the Allies. Any account of this monumental survival will give some amount of historical education to the listening ear. Though it is not perhaps the ‘learning experience’ of some new torrent of information leaping out at me, I found that through watching the movie, I learned just through watching.
The information presented was nothing new in itself; the cruelty was already known. I will admit that when the narrator said that though her barracks mistress looked harsh and barked orders, she was actually a very warm and caring person, I was surprised. What was really new, however, was hearing and seeing the emotion the narrator felt as she unraveled her life to the viewer. Actually being able to see how she reacted to what she said, the body language, and to hear the stumble of the words and pauses between difficult realizations was more informative than if I had been asked to read everything she said. For me at least, the documentary was more “hands on” which allowed for a more empathetic and involved response than eyes skimming a piece of paper. Besides, hearing facts about an event that one already knows about repeated in a first hand account of someone who was actually there just makes the facts already known hit home as they begin to take physical shape in a living, breathing, history.
This is not to say that a written account is any less credible. The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak written by Dawid himself, is just as much a true account of what occurred during the Holocaust as listening to a speaker. If anything, knowing that persons such as Dawid who wrote what happened to them were writing when it was happening, just furthers the amount of credibility of a person giving their true account because then a comparison can be made. By listening to the woman in the documentary, the facts that there was little food and that the people looked like mummies concurs with Dawid’s account of the hour glassed and drawn faces. Each account only adds to the knowledge and understanding of the event. For instance, from Dawid we learn what it was like to live with your family in the ghetto during WWII, with the woman speaker we learn what it was like to move from place to place, with no family, and to make the death march. Where we learn how hopeless things seemed to Dawid and then unto his tragic death, we learn how the woman and her friends managed to keep each other’s spirits up and for the main speaker, to survive the ordeal. Because the accounts coincide, those of us who have never had to suffer such circumstances are able to get a fuller view of just what life was like during the time.
This solidifying of facts only helps to drive it home all the more that we as the human race need to learn tolerance. We need to learn how to accept others no matter their race, culture, ethnicity, gender, etc. There was no excuse for the way the Nazi regime treated the Jewish peoples, the gypsies, etc. in their declaration of hate against so many people for a difference in way of life and culture. The world needs to stop the hate that flourishes through it every day so that the Holocaust is never given a chance to occur again.

Erin Knisley
ENGL 121.003 MWF 11:45-12:45

Posted by: Erin K. at April 22, 2007 06:51 PM

Professor Hobbs,

After viewing the video about Gerda Weissman, who lived in Bielsko, Poland, I learned many things about the differences between her story and Dawids. I was very amazed and shocked at what she had to go through as a teenager in the Holocaust. Even though I had read The Diary Of Dawid Sierakowiak, and had become digusted after reading it, it was different to actually watch Gerda on screen telling her story. It was upsetting to see her emotions and her eyes tearing up as she spoke about her losses. I couldnt even imagine going through what she did.
It was interesting to see the differences between Dawids written diary and Gerda's story. It was heartbreaking to hear her speak about losing her best friend because she was all she had left after being separated from her brother, father, and mother.
It was sad to read about Dawid not surviving long after the war, but great to hear that the man who had saved Gerda became her husband who she is happily married to with three children and eight grandchildren. It shows that there is life after war.

Tina W

Posted by: Tina W at April 22, 2007 08:10 PM

Erika L.Gillenberger
Instructor Lee Hobbs
ENGL 121.003 Humanities Lit.
22 April 2007
Surviving the Ghetto
This documentary movie was about Gerta Weissmann and how she survived the holocaust. In August of 1939, 15 year old Gerta Weissmann was about to start school when World War II began. Gerta recalls that night plans flying by and hearing bombs exploding and guns shooting as they hid in their basement. In only a few hours the German arm took over.
Her brother was 19 when he had to register for the German army. The last time she saw her brother he asked her to be strong and take care of their parents. Her brother leaving was one of the hardest things she ever dealt with. The Germans soon took over many houses including hers. They had to stay living in the basement of their own house.
On June 28, 1942 the Germans deported the Polish to slave labor camps. That morning all they had to eat was cocoa and jam. That was also the last day she saw her father. On June 29, 1942 Jewish women were deported, this was the last time she saw her mother. Gerta was loaded on to a truck and taken to a slave factory that made fabric for solider uniforms.
On January 29 the girls at the slave camp started on a death march. Two thousand girls began the death march and only one hundred lived. It was so cold that girls that did not have shoes started to brake of their toes because their feet were so frozen. Gerta’s father told her to be wear her snow boots all the time even in the summer so she did. This little thing her father told her to do was essential to her staying alive. On May 1945 the death march came to an end. At the end of the death march Gerta weighted 68 pounds and had white hair. All of her friends that were with her threw the entire march died. Her friend Suzie died on the day of liberation just a few hours before American soldiers came to save them. Gerta ended up marrying the man that was the first one to save her on the day of liberation.

Posted by: Erika G. at April 22, 2007 10:13 PM

Holocaust Documentary

The movie we watched was about a Holocaust survivor who endured a very hard life as a Jew. As a young girl, she was separated from her family and shortly before that her brother, who was her companion, really the only person who lived for her and watched out for her more than her parents did, died at such a young age. Not long after. She was separated from her family and when her and her mother were separated by age, she actually tried jumping off the truck but the guard told her that she best get back on the truck for she wouldn’t want to go to where her mother was going. So after that she never saw her parents again and assumed that they had died. She went to a camp and was there for close to three years. Her parents went to Auschwitz so she thought it was a good probability that they had died because of the awful stories she heard about the camp. She mentioned that before she and her parents got split up that her dad told her to change into her snow boots. So she changed before they started the long walk to the concentration camps. She said that girls wore sandals and there toes actually feel off because it was so cold outside and they walked for so long. After being in the camp for about three years, they were finally getting out, when on of the girls she became really close with died. She met a soldier who actually was a Jew. His parents sent him to America before things stated to get worse and he enlisted in the army and I guess you could say he saved her. She ended up marring him and moving to America.

She had a lot in common with Dawid. There lives where very similar because they were close in age when they experienced this terrible part of their life. I think she had it a little harder than Dawid because he never was in a camp and witnessed the tragic things that went on like she did. And she was completely separated from her family, but Dawid was too pretty much, just because he didn’t really have a strong relationship with his family, especially his dad. But they both had hard lives of inequality.

Posted by: Lorin Gdula at April 22, 2007 10:53 PM

Sheryll A. Daugherty
Instructor Lee Hobbs
English Humanities Literature 121. 003
22 April 2007

The Holocaust: Survivor Greta Wiseman
During the nineteen hundreds the Nazis party came into a tyranny of arbitrary power. Hitler’s and his follower’s ethnocentric view of the world perceived Germans as “racially superior” and viewed others as ‘inferior”. This ideology contributed to “The Holocaust”, which was the discrimination and mass murder of many ethnic groups based on political and cultural views. The major victims of the Nazi’s interrogation were primarily Jehovah witnesses. Although there were many other ideologies based on politics, religion and behavioral issues that created discrimination towards others. Greta Wiseman is one of the very few survivors who survived this horrific event. Her experiences affected her emotionally and physically during the dire events of World War II.
Throughout Greta’s life she encountered many experiences that affected her psychologically. She was split apart from her family which was detrimental damage throughout the rest of her life. She was split apart from her family because of World War II. In 1939, German forces took over when Greta was only fifteen years of age. Her brother whom was nineteen had to register for the Germany army. This was the last time she ever saw her brother. She was also separated from her mother on June 29, 1942 when the Germans deported the Polish to labor camps. Greta was sent to a factory where they made fabric for the soldier’s uniforms. Being split apart from her family affected her emotionally throughout her life as she went through the harsh events of discrimination against Jewish descent.
Along with the emotional suffrage Greta also experience physical encounters from World War II. On January 29 she started the death March with 2,000 other girls. She was one of the one-hundred girls that survived. The march was a horrendous event that required a strong physical stance. For example, a lot of the girls did not have any shoes. They had to walk in the freezing cold weather. On 1945 the death March ended and Greta weighed about 68pounds. Just a few days before American solders invaded her best friend Susie passed away. The day of liberation a man saved Greta’s life which she married later.
The ghastly event that Greta experience had a huge impact on her life which is hard to share with the world today. Her documentary was a valid source of information it came from the first person perspective. Holocaust according to ethics was morally wrong. The documentary gave reasons why Germans felt they were superior and self-domineering to those they saw as a threat to the growth of their “perfect” society. Before watching the documentary about Greta Wiseman I knew just basic information regarding the events of the Holocaust. The information collected from the Holocaust can correlate to the reactions many individuals have towards the Muslim faith today. We can use events such as the Holocaust to help prevent discrimination against ethic groups such as Muslims, which started after the attacks of 9/11. Others including myself should take this outlook by not discriminating ethnic groups according to cultural beliefs. This will prevent hatred upon a group and not lead to another holocaust.

Posted by: Sheryll Daugherty at April 22, 2007 11:50 PM

Professor Hobbs,
I attended the Holocaust Documentary for the 5 extra credit points. Here is my one page paper.

Carlos R. Gonzalez

Instructor: Lee Hobbs

ENGl 121.003

Extra credit

Reaction to the Holocaust Documentary

After reading the Diary of Dawid Sierkowiak, I felt like I had a knowledge of what the victims of the war went through. I understood that every aspect of the lives of the Jews were controlled by the German soldiers but, after watching the documentary I was in more shock then ever.
The Documentary was about a woman’s experiences throughout the war. She was a Polish Jew. She struggled to tell her story because of the horrid and terrfying memories that she was scared with from the war. She suffered while she was telling her story; but, she knew that it would be only for the better if she continued to tell about the hardships that she lived through.
The women went through her childhood and expressed all of the possitive times that her and her family shared. Then she described the day that the Germans took over as the day the dark cloud rained over Poland. This is when the terrible six year nightmare began. She was only 15 years of age when the German army took over. She remembers the day as a normal and regular day. She expressed that the Germans took over that evening.
While reading the Diaries of Dawid the subject of relocation was not mention for a while after the Germans took over. In the documentary the woman mentioned that within weeks of the invasion that many men were being relocated and sent away and some were forced to work. Also in the novel that we read in class I do not recall any thing about Germans taking over the housing of any Jews. Dawid expressed that they were force d to live in the ghetto of Lodz but never mentioned any instances when their homes were being taken over also. The woman mentioned that her family was forced to live in their cold and wet basement during the Winter.
One element of her story that I found interesting was her hope. She had the same hopes as Dawid had. They both shared the hope and thoughts that the War was to end soon. They both imagined what times were like before the war. She even talks about when she was separated from her mother and how she debated with other younger females about how long the war was to last.
I believe that I felt what it was like to live during these hard times to an extent y listening to her story. While watching the documentary I did close my eyes sometimes and just tried to imagine what it would have been like to live during this time. She expressed how she and other young Jewish girls were thrown on to a cargo trunk like they were cattle being sent to be killed.
The facts that she gave were very interesting. She spoke about here memories about how they were force d to live and how they were treated. I just could not realize how this was just happening. Of course we as people learned from this experience and time are different but, being a person of today looking back in History it is just gut retching to hear that people were being treated like objects or animals. The fact that the documentary started with was about the amount of people who were killed. She expressed that American troops found many dead women after the fact. She said the death march started with about 2000 women and ended with 150. Just hearing the story from a survivor made that more of an impact to express how terrifying the times were. I did not know about the death marches until I watched the documentary.

Carlos Gonzalez

Posted by: Carlos Gonzalez at April 23, 2007 09:48 AM

Amber Dunmire

English 121

Professor Hobbs


Holocaust Documentary

The Holocaust was a horrible event in history that we only hear stories about. Can you imagine actually being there and having to go through what many of the Holocaust survivors went through? The Holocaust Documentary tells the story of a woman who lived to tell her story.
Gerda and her family were on vacation, when they returned to their house, the war had begun. By December, she and her family were living in the basement of their home because the Nazi’s had invaded their home and destroyed most of it. She would sneak out to what used to be their garden and pick what flowers were left. When she did this, she could see her bedroom and trying to think about what it would be like if the war had never started.
As time went on, her brother got taken away to what she assumes as a concentration camp. Her father got sent someplace else and it was just Gerda and her mom. Her mother and she were in a line of some sort when they got split up. She went one way and her mother went another. The Nazi’s loaded her group into the back of a truck and started to pull away. She heard her mothers voice and jumped off the truck to be with her mother. A Nazi picked her up and said, “you are too young to die”, and threw her back on the truck. This was the last time she ever saw her mother.
She was deported to a slave labor factory. She was in that camp for almost three years. It was along the Polish-German border. As this time in her life, she almost wished that her parents would have suggested committing suicide together so they did not have to go through all of this. Before her father and her got separated, her father made her promise she would never commit suicide and she would fight to stay alive. He also told her that whenever she leaves, she is to wear her ski boots, and she asked “why?”. He just told her to do so. They were evacuated from this camp by foot. This was the start of the “death marches”. The Nazi’s were trying to get ride of all evidence that they had done this, both living and dead. She thanked God, that she wore her ski boots. She said she had saw people break off their toes like twigs. Those boots saved her feet. During this “death march” they had to sleep outside and they were starved for days. This continued into the spring of 1945. It ended at a vacant bike factory. Gerda was 21,weighed 65 pounds and she had white hair.
This was a very sad story to watch. I can not believe people had to go through that. It is very disturbing to me that people such as the Nazi’s did this to other people.

Posted by: Amber Dunmire at April 24, 2007 07:32 AM


In Wednesday's class, I offered you a 5 point extra credit opportunity. The details of the assignment were as follows:

1. Attend the documentary and question and answer session on Wednesday night.
2. Stay for the entire event, get a voucher from the organizers to prove your attendance.
3. Bring your copy of Dawid Sierakowiak, be prepared to discuss with the organizers your observations.
4. Take notes, it will help with the rest of the assignment.
5. Write a short, one-page response in your journal that summarizes what you learned from the experience and how this can be applied to what you've already learned about Dawid Sierakowiak's experience.
6. Post that response here, on the English-blog.

Note: your extra credit points will be tallied separately from the score kept on Turnitin.com. All extra credit points earned will be added to your final grade sum at the end of the course.

Vouchers and online response due by classtime Monday.

Don't forget that your first draft of reading response #4 is also due Monday for the peer-review session.

See you then,



Erin Rock, thanks for helping organize this and bringing it up to the class. Lorin, Erin K., Erika G., April H., Rebeccas S., Amber, Carlos, Sheryll, Tina, and Lyndsay, thanks for attending and leaving your contributions with me. If you left a comment AND gave me your attendance voucher, you got 5 points added to your extra credit tally.


*NOTE* The deadline for this assignment has now passed. Comments are no longer being accepted for this exercise


Posted by: Lee Hobbs at April 25, 2007 01:51 PM

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