The Chicago Regional Office commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27, 2020, by hearing directly from a Holocaust survivor who provided them a double dose of history and inspiration.
The guest speaker, Kurt Gutfreund, had the unthinkable occur on his 5th birthday. He and his mother were arrested after surviving several months in hiding from the Nazi regime in Vienna, Austria, and they were deported to the Terezin concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. He was already separated from his father, Heinrich, who had been deported from Vienna to the Maly Trostenets concentration camp near Minsk and murdered within a week of arrival. Kurt detailed how he and his mother survived in Terezin until their liberation in 1945.
Kurt returned to Vienna after the Holocaust and continued his schooling. He moved to Chicago in 1958 and worked in the children’s garment industry while raising a family of his own. Kurt is now retired but speaks numerous times a year to school groups and during various Holocaust remembrance events. His visit to the Chicago office was arranged through the Illinois Holocaust Museum’s Speakers’ Bureau.
And perhaps even more impressive than Kurt’s story itself is the manner in which he tells it without a grudge.
Modified: April 6, 2023