At 21 years of age and without a bath for three years, Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissmann came to the end of the 350-mile death march. With ghost-white hair and her 68-pound frame, Weissmann’s dream of being rescued had finally come true.
UNT’s Center for Learning Enhancement, Assessment, and Redesign (CLEAR) is hosting its annual interactive video conference with Weissmann, now a renowned motivational speaker, at noon today in Chilton Hall 245.
“I think this event is going to have a lot of impact on the UNT community,” said Sapora Bradley, a radio, television and film graduate student. “The Gerda and Kurt Klein Foundation focuses a lot on responsibility, service learning and shows students and staff how to have tolerance…”
Senior marketing specialist Amber Bryant said she believes the videoconference is a unique chance for students to immerse themselves in history.
“I haven’t gone to her conference yet,” Bryant said. “But when I talk to people who have seen it, it makes me excited. This conference is for everyone, and it’s a unique and interesting opportunity to actually touch history first-hand and talk to a primary source. The Holocaust may be foreign to you, or it may actually personally be related to you, but their generation isn’t going to be around much longer…”
Mindy Rice, a kinesiology sophomore, said her fascination with the Holocaust drove her to participate in the videoconference.
“I feel like I’m connected in some way with the Holocaust and its survivors,” Rice said. “It may sound abnormal, but I personally feel like in some way I’m a reincarnation of a victim and to actually meet a survivor is a once in a lifetime experience that I would love to have.”
Weissmann was rescued by U.S. Army Lieutenant Kurt Klein in January 1945, whom she married in 1946. Together, they traveled across the country sharing their stories with schools and strove to make a difference by teaching tolerance and equality.
“Students are now at the age where they can start voting and having an impact in the country,” Bradley said. “Because Gerda and Kurt have such an amazing story, it gives them the tools to speak up… With that, they can teach the later generations to have that same type of understanding.”