Gerda Weissmann Klein: Holocaust survivor, Presidential Medal of Freedom winner dies at 97


Born in Bielsko, Poland, on May 8, 1924, Klein had enjoyed a “normal life” until the Nazis invaded in September 1939, according to her obituary. She and her family were forced into a ghetto and her parents were ultimately deported to Auschwitz. Klein never saw them or her brother again.

Klein endured years in slave labor and concentration camps before being forced to walk a 35-mile death march from Poland to what is now the Czech Republic.

Against all odds, Klein survived. US troops, including Lt. Kurt Klein, the man who she would later marry, liberated her on May 7, 1945, on the eve of her 21st birthday. At the time, she weighed just 68 pounds and her hair had turned gray, the obituary says. She and Kurt married in Paris on June 18, 1946, and later settled in Buffalo, New York.

Gerda Weissmann Klein is seen holding a picture of her late husband, Kurt Klein, in August 2005.

Klein wrote about her experiences during the war in her autobiography, “All But My Life,” which was the basis for the Oscar and Emmy-winning HBO documentary, “One Survivor Remembers.”

Throughout the years,…