Video Archive

Tribute to the Survivors

Abe Price (born Abram Piasecki)

Jan. 9, 1923 - Feb. 25, 2014

Abe Price was born Abram Piasecki, the youngest of five brothers. His parents owned a shoe factory and store in Kielce until the Nazis attacked Poland and occupied his hometown in 1939. He was sent to a concentration camp at the age of 16 jam-packed into a cattle car and branded prisoner B-3266. His family was forced to move into a ghetto. Five years later, in 1944, he and a friend escaped from an Auschwitz-controlled labor camp. "I survived by luck, by faith or by accident, in order to be a witness to the Nazi crimes and to keep alive the memory of the children, my loved ones and my people."

When he returned to Kielce, he found that most of his family - including his parents and two of his brothers - had been killed. He eventually moved to a nearby town where he met Sala, who would later become his wife. They were married in two weeks. They eventually emigrated to the United States in 1951 and moved to Naples in the late 1980s, he became a regular speaker in Naples schools and the Holocaust Museum & Education Center of Southwest Florida. He also wrote two books about his experiences: "Memoirs of a Survivor" and "Tamed by an Angel."

"He was passionate about sharing with people and teaching them about the horrors of the Holocaust and his experiences, educating people in such a way that hopefully such a thing will never happen again," Dr. Herb Price said of his father. "If there is a word that is more than passionate, I would say he is that.”

Alfred "Fred" Rosenstrauch

September 29, 1924 - August 3, 2015

Alfred Rosenstrauch was born in Bopfingen, Germany on September 29, 1924, which happened to be Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

He walked a unique road to notoriety. First a German Jew living under the Nazi regime, then an American soldier fighting on the front lines for his new homeland, then an interrogator during the Nuremberg trials, Rosenstrauch has lived a remarkable American life in the face of adversity.

His family was not sent to a concentration camp because his grandparents had a longtime friend who was the leader of the Nazi party in their town. While they weren't arrested, they were told one day that they could not go home. They were given some clothes and papers and left in December 1939 on a train to Naples, Italy. They slept in a barn until they were able to get passage on a ship to the United States on Christmas Eve, at the age of 14. After arriving in the U.S., Fred went to school in Catskill, N.Y. and worked on a farm. He continued his schooling in St. Louis when the family moved there.

By age 18, he wanted to join the U.S. Army, but couldn't due to the fact he was not yet a U.S. citizen. He asked the draft board to bump his number up. In October 1943 he was able to join the army. He was sent to England after basic training and was attached to the Second Infantry Division, which landed on Omaha Beach on D Day. He spent 142 days on the front lines until he was wounded and returned to England.

When the war ended in Europe, he was sent to officers training school and then to Nuremberg as an interpreter. In 1946, he returned to the United States and married his wife Lore.

Anatole "Tony" Kurdsjuk

November 2, 1934 - July 26, 2013

Born in Mariupol, USSR to Jacob and Olga Kurdsjuk. Anatole and his parents were survivors of the Nazi Labor Camps in Germany during WWII after being liberated by Patton's Third Army. The family emigrated to Bellmore, NY in 1948. Anatole "Tony" attended Duke University before enlisting in the U.S. Air Force in 1955 where he worked as a programmer on the first computer systems. Taking a job with Honeywell after the service, Tony met the love of his life Linda, proposing on their first date and marrying in 1963. He moved their family to West Windsor, NJ in 1969, where they lived until retiring to North Fort Myers in 1997.

Once in Florida, Anatole fulfilled the promise he made to his father decades earlier, writing the story of his family's struggles in Stalin's Russia and Hitler's Germany, and of the miracles that allowed them to survive and come to the United States. After "The Long Walk Home, With Miracles Along The Way", was published in 2005, he spoke continuously at schools, universities, clubs and holocaust gatherings, sharing the tales of his family so that future generations would "never forget" the things that happened during those times, until health issues forced him to stop in 2010.

Anneliese Salamon, nee Reder

August 9, 1930 - December 11, 2014

Anneliese Salamon was born in Vienna, Austria in 1930. When she was a few months old, she and her family returned to the small Czechoslovakian town where her mother had been born and raised. For nine years, they lived a nice and comfortable life, never experiencing any anti-Semitism.

But in September of 1939 that peaceful life was interrupted. As the Nazis took over the town, Anneliese and the three other Jewish youngsters in her town were forbidden to attend school. Her family's material possessions were slowly taken from them. In 1940, all Jewish families were forced to move onto one street creating a Jewish Ghetto. In this new "world" not only were they required to wear the Yellow Star of David, but were mandated to follow all restrictions placed upon them. Things such as curfew and the inability to walk and shop where they wished became reality.

Without any explanation in August 1941 her parents were taken by the Gestapo. She never saw them again. In May 1942, the remaining Jewish people in town were ordered to report to the high school in the capital city of the region. They were allowed to bring only one suitcase, never being told what was to come. After a stay of three weeks, they were transported by a box car to the town of Bohusovice. From there they marched to the camp Theresienstadt.

On May 8, 1945 when Anneliese was liberated by the Russian Army, she was the only member of her family still alive. She returned to her home town to live with her guardians, made up four of the six years of schooling that she had lost and passed an exam which allowed her to enter high school. She graduated from high school and then college. Later, she met and married another survivor. They had two daughters and continued to live in the country until 1968, when they escaped to the United States.

Anneliese has continued to keep in contact with her close friends made in Theresienstadt. Of the five original, two have passed away. Through all the hardships encountered in her life she has managed to maintain a positive, productive and healthy outlook. She cherishes the family and friends that now surround her, and remains a happy individual.

Ben Alalouf

Ben and his family made a harrowing journey through Albania. There were near misses along the way where fate intervened. A Nazi patrol stopped by where refugees, including Ben's family, were resting. The leader picked Ben up and referred to him in kind terms never noticing the Star of David that had been embroidered on the shirt under Ben's sweater. Another time, the family made it to a ship that would take them to freedom. Ben was able to take his pet onboard; the donkey that had drawn a cart that Ben rode in. The ship subsequently hit a mine and sank but Ben's family survived.

The Alaloufs made it to America as part of the small program that put refugees in a defunct WWI camp in Oswego, New York. Called Fort Ontario it housed the Alaloufs through the remainder of the war. Mrs. Roosevelt made a stop at the camp and even visited the Alalouf barracks. Ben and family decided to stay in America and moved to New York City where Ben grew up, attended college, and embarked on a career in education and administration.

Benno Benninga

June 27, 1925 - December 11, 2015

Benno Benninga was born in 1925 in Leeuwarden (Friesland) The Netherlands. When he was six years old he moved to Amsterdam with his parents and sister. He graduated from high school in 1942.

Shortly after his graduation, he and his family went into hiding to escape the Nazi atrocities during the German occupation (1940-1945). He has written a book: "In Hiding" which describes the mental and physical abuses they endured during their years of hiding. The book is based on a diary his father kept during that time. His family was fortunate. All of them survived.

In 1950 Benno married his wife, Carla, who had also survived the war in hiding.

In 1951 he graduated from the Amsterdam University with a bachelor's degree in Economics. That same year the couple moved to the United States, where he had been offered a job with a margarine company in Cincinnati, Ohio. While working there, he received an M.B.A. from Xavier University. In 1957 he changed jobs working for a meat company in the same city. A few years later he became Director of Purchasing, a position he kept until his retirement.

After his retirement, the Benningas moved to Sanibel Island.

They have one son who lives with his wife in Chicago.

Carla Benninga

Carla Benninga grew up in The Hague, Netherlands and vividly recalls the beginning of the Nazi occupation in 1940 and its impact on her life. After a failed attempt to escape to England by way of the harbor town, Ijmuiden, her family returned to The Hague. She completed seventh and eighth grade at her school; but in 1941, the edicts began including the one that forbade Jews from attending public or private schools. She began the ninth grade in a special school where all of the teachers and students were Jewish. Many of the teachers were college professors, not allowed to teach at the universities any longer.

In November 1942, Carla's family, along with all other Jews residing in Holland were forced to move to Amsterdam. Her father had been forced to turn his business over to a Verwalter, a "caretaker." In the spring of 1943, the family moved again into a ghetto within the city. The German SS made their weekly round-ups ringing all doorbells to find out which apartment housed Jewish families and which of those families were on the "exempt" list. While they were initially on an "exempt" list, they knew it was only a matter of time before their luck would run out. It was decided that the family would split up and go into hiding. Carla was placed with a family in the south of Holland. She spent most of her years in hiding with that family, but left when the family's son, who had been in a German work camp, escaped and joined the underground. At that point, she went from house to house sometimes riding her bike in broad daylight and sometimes sneaking out in the middle of the night. In the sixteen months that she was in hiding she stayed in a dozen different places.

After the war, Carla Benninga received her B.A. degree, majoring in English, from the University of Amsterdam, married Benno in 1950 and moved to Cincinnati, OH in 1951. Professionally she has been involved in public relations, public affairs, legislative affairs and opinion research. She has also served on numerous boards in Cincinnati and in Sanibel.

Cesare Frustaci

Cesare was born in Napoli, Italy. His Jewish mother, Margit, was a Hungarian ballerina and his Roman Catholic father, Pasquale, was a famous orchestra director and music composer. They baptized Cesare and brought him up as a Catholic. In 1938, the Italian government issued anti-Semitic laws and began expelling foreign Jews from the country. Margit returned to Hungary with two year-old Cesare.

Once in Hungary, Cesare and his mother were ultimately forced to live inside a Yellow Star house within a Jewish ghetto. In an effort to save Cesare, Margit sent him out onto the streets with only a piece of bread and his baptismal certificate. They did not know if they would ever be together again. While separated from his mother, Cesare devised clever ways to obtain food and shelter in order to stay alive. However, he was eventually captured and sent in a boxcar to a youth detention camp. During this time, Margit miraculously survived a death march and a series of concentration camps.

After liberation, the International Red Cross helped place Cesare in a new home. His brave and determined mother went on foot for over a year looking for Cesare and finally found him, 183 villages later, on a pig farm on the Ukrainian border with an adoptive family. They returned to Budapest, and Margit insisted that Cesare resume his education.

Cesare's mother died in Hungary in 1998. Cesare immigrated to the United States in 1982.

Erna Rosner

Erna Rosner was born in Krakow, Poland. She is a survivor of five concentration camps, including Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. Eventually, she was liberated from Mauthausen. At one point, she was on Schindler's List, but her spot was taken by another. Her future husband was fortunate to remain on Schindler's List. Oscar Schindler himself became their personal friend and attended their wedding.

In 1949 the Rosners came to the United States and settled in New York, where they raised their family. Seven years ago Erna moved to Fort Myers to be close to her two sons and their families.

Since arriving in Fort Myers, Erna has been a frequent speaker on the Holocaust.

Eva Brandt

Eva was a teenager in Hungary and was deported in March 1944 to Nazi Germany to Auschwitz. She worked 14 hours a day at a Nazi underground airplane factory near Mulhausen. As that operation dwindled, she was transferred in February 1945 to Bergen-Belsen, a concentration camp with deplorable conditions where there were corpses laying everywhere.

In April 1945, the British Army liberated Brandt's camp and nursed her back to health. Brandt soon learned her sister and father both survived; her mother did not. Brandt illegally crossed the border back into Hungary to see her family, but soon abandoned the country that abandoned her.

In February 1946, Brandt landed a job with the United Nations' child search team, working to free children fathered by Nazis in an attempt to boost the Nazi population in Germany. International law, Brandt says, gave these children the nationality of their mothers, often blonde-haired, blue-eyed women from all corners of Europe.

"We yanked these kids out," Brandt said. "That was a sweet revenge for me. We went from place to place searching for these kids, sending them back to whatever country their mother was from."

After emigrating to the U.S. in 1949, Brandt got married and became a social worker in Chicago.

Fred Flatau

July 26, 1931 - January 8, 2010

Fred Flatau was born in Berlin in 1931 to an affluent Jewish family. His family was very assimilated and not religious. His father was an entertainment lawyer who fought for Germany in World War I.

During Kristallnacht in November of 1938, the Nazis took Fred's father to a concentration camp called Sachsenhausen. Fred's mother used bribery to get her husband released. Ordered to leave Germany, the family fled to Prague (Czechoslovakia), then Italy. They stayed in a luxurious hotel in Italy for five years. They were forced to wear black shirts but did not have problems with anti-Semitism.

However, when Hitler allied with Mussolini, Fred's father was sent to a camp called Ferramont for one year. The family moved around for years attempting to escape capture and persecution. When they made it to Rome they used their connections to get an apartment and changed their name to "Ferrucci." Fred became an altar boy and attended Mass.

On June 3, 1944, President Roosevelt announced that 1,000 Jewish refugees were able to enter the United States. Fred's family was one of those 1,000. Fred was thirteen years old when they sailed to America and made their way to Oswego, New York. From there they moved to New York City. Fred eventually moved back to Germany and completed his medical education at a prestigious university.

Fred Rosenstrauch

Fred Rosenstrauch was born in Bopfingen, Germany on September 29, 1924, which happened to be Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

His family was not sent to a concentration camp because his grandparents had a longtime friend who was the leader of the Nazi party in their town. While they weren't arrested, they were told one day that they could not go home. They were given some clothes and papers and left in December 1939 on a train to Naples, Italy. They slept in a barn until they were able to get passage on a ship to the United States. After arriving in the U.S., Fred went to school in Catskill, N.Y. and worked on a farm. He continued his schooling in St. Louis when the family moved there.

In October 1943 Fred joined the army. He was sent to England after basic training and was attached to the Second Infantry Division, which landed on Omaha Beach on D Day. He spent 142 days on the front lines until he was wounded and returned to England.

When the war ended in Europe, he was sent to officers training school and then to Nuremberg as an interpreter. In 1946, he returned to the United States and married his wife Lore.

Gerda Friedeman

May 4, 1914 - March 26, 2015

Gerda Friedeman grew up in Muenster, Germany. She lived there happily with her parents, three brothers and a sister until the Nazi regime came into power in 1933. Lives of the Jews in Germany changed dramatically and they became a persecuted group, many fleeing for their lives.

In January 1938, she married Simon Friedeman. The early years of their married life were marred by the threat of World War II. Simon, rabbi of a synagogue in Bielefeld, was arrested on Kristallnacht while rushing to his burning synagogue to rescue some of the ritual items. He was taken to Buchenwald. Eventually he was released and allowed to go to England on a student visa. Gerda spent five months underground in Holland and was on the last boat to leave Holland for New York in April 1940. After three years, her husband was finally able to join her in New York. He officiated as a rabbi for several congregations. His last position was at Temple Beth El, which at the time was located in Cape Coral.

Gerda has been very active in the Jewish Community. She has been involved in many different activities related to her experiences during the Holocaust, including being invited to return to Germany to participate in a program whose philosophy is "to remember is the secret to reconciliation."

Irene Skolnick

Once a Jew was trapped under Nazi occupation there were only four ways one could hope to survive: with luck one could survive the camps, one could be hidden by a courageous gentile, one could escape and live in the forest with partisans, or one could change one's identity, pretend to be Catholic and blend into the ambient population. This is what mother decided would be our best chance at survival. This was not an easy undertaking. To blend into the Polish community it was essential not to look Jewish; not to sound Jewish; to know a fair amount about Catholicism; and be able to think on your feet when unexpected events occurred. Above all one needed to be lucky. With counterfeit documents we changed our name and moved to Lublin, the site of Majdanek, the second largest concentration camp in Poland. At that time I was five years old and my brother was seven. We had to learn new names and to never reveal our past. No sooner we got settled that members of my father's family descended on us seeking shelter. In a small, primitive house we hid up to eight members of my father's family.

Joseph Lipshutz

November 1, 1918 - April 28, 2012

Joseph Lipshutz was born in 1918 in Krakow, Poland and attended grammar school and high school there. It was the same school that the Late Pope John Paul II attended until he switched to a Catholic high school after 2 years.

Joseph attended technical school until his father's death at which point he learned the family business as a furrier, and worked to help family finances. In 1939 and 1940, Joseph was forced by the Germans to work outdoors cleaning streets from dirt, snow and ice. Late in 1940, he was moved to a labor camp at the Krakow airport, where he worked until the end of 1941. At the airport, he survived by making fur hats, gloves and slippers for the German officers.

In 1942 Joseph was moved to Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp where he was assigned to a fur shop to repair coats for the guards. In November 1944 he was placed on a list of prisoners to be moved to Schindler's factory in Czechoslovakia, where he worked as an electrician installing machinery to produce anti-tank weapons.

In May 1945, he was liberated from the concentration camp, and moved to a displaced persons camp in Bergen Belsen. He was married in Bergen Belsen and had a baby girl in September 1949. Over forty members of his extended family, including his mother, two brothers and a sister, did not survive the war.

The Jewish Federation of Philadelphia assisted in his move to America in December 1949. The Federation found a job for him at Schaevitz Engineering, in New Jersey, where he achieved the position of vice president of operations. He holds patents for components in the aircraft industry and also the space shuttle.

He retired in 1980 and moved to Florida, where he was a frequent speaker about the Holocaust.

Judit Price

Judit was born March 1, 1944 in Budapest Hungary. She lived in the basement nearly 9 months, of a building made safe by Raoul Wallenberg. That safety did not mean that bombs hit nearby. Her father, meanwhile, had been sent to a slave labor camp. After his usefulness began to wane, he was transported to Auschwitz. Along the way, he managed to jump off of the train and escape. He slept in a barn until someone turned him in. He was returned to the original camp instead of Auschwitz and ultimately survived.

Judit recalls when the Soviet Red Army came through and "liberated" Budapest. The violence that they perpetrated on residents was ingrained into her family's consciousness.

She went from National Socialism to Communism and recalls standing in breadlines for food. She and her parents miraculously escaped and made it to America.

Lore Rosenstrauch

Lore Rosenstrauch was born in Trier, Germany on November 1, 1924. She and her parents lived there until January, 1939. In 1938 the Jewish children in her town were no longer allowed to go to school, so her parents sent her to Düsseldorf to school. She was there until Kristallnacht when the Nazis came to the apartment where she boarded with a family. The Nazis destroyed everything in the house and locked the family and Lore in the bathroom. The next day, her cousin put her on a train to go back home. Her family had received their papers to come to the United States.

She met her husband, Fred, when both were in high school and waited for him until he returned from the war. They married in June 1946 and have two children, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Paul Simko

Paul Simko was born in May 1927 in Vienna, Austria. In the year 1938, when he was only 11 years old the Germans forcefully annexed Austria and his native country ceased to exist and his life changed dramatically.

He was refused entrance into the school he had been attending and was forced to go to a school for Jews. Students were frequently attacked by members of the Hitler Youth organization. Police stood by doing nothing to protect the Jewish children. When Simko himself was attacked, he remembers a policeman standing nearby laughing.

Slowly but surely all the rights of Austrian Jews - so natural to every citizen - had been taken from them. On November 9th 1938 the persecution reached an unprecedented level when the Germans burned down most of the synagogues and raided Jewish businesses and homes to take adults to concentration camps for forced labor and looted their belongings. Paul Simko has vivid memories of Kristallnacht.

Simko's family had been desperately looking to emigrate anywhere that would accept them. Several countries including the United States turned them down. Finally they were able to get a permit to go to Bolivia. It was in July 1939, forty days before World War II started, that they were fortunate to leave their home and country with just one suitcase and no money to begin their lives anew in one of the most underdeveloped countries in South America.

Renee Beddouk

Renee Beddouk was born in Paris as Renee Krasnobroda. Her family was Jewish but not very religious. Both of her parents were naturalized French citizens.

In 1942, Renee and her parents left Paris for Clermont Ferrand, a "free zone" which was an area that Jews could be safe from German occupation. Renee's grandmother chose to stay in Paris and was arrested and sent to Drancy, an infamous French transit camp. It is not certain if she died there or in a concentration camp.

Not long after their arrival in Clermont Ferrand, her parents decided that they must hide Renee in order to ensure her safety. They sent Renee to the farm of a gentile family in the country village of Estandeuil. The family received compensation from her parents. Renee's parents stayed in Clermont Ferrand, which was eventually taken by the Nazis. They were sent to Drancy and then perished in Auschwitz.

After the war, Renee returned to Paris and lived with her extended family. Her aunt gave Renee a letter from her mother written while she was in Drancy. Renee's mother reminded Renee that she loved her. She expressed her hope for Renee to become a strong and forgiving woman. Renee's mother asked her sister to watch over Renee.

In 1946, twelve year-old Renee and her aunt, uncle, and two cousins immigrated to the United States. Renee completed school and, at the age of nineteen, married George Elie Beddouk.

Robert Nossen

My parents and brother left Germany in October 1933 for Denmark after my father received an eighteen month permit to work for a subsidiary of his company. In 1935 they moved to Belgium and finally settled in Amsterdam, Netherlands (Holland) in 1936. I was born there in 1938 and my father's parents and other relatives from Germany joined us in 1939. Of our extended family of fifteen, only the four of us survived the war.

In May 1940 Holland was invaded. Starting in 1941 ever increasing restrictions were placed on us, including the Jewish star and exclusion from schools and public places. Then, in the fall of 1942, the first deportations to Westerbork, primarily a transit camp, then Auschwitz started. In June 1943 we were sent to Westerbork, but released after three months at the request of my father's company. By then we had received El Salvador citizenship papers through contacts in Switzerland. These papers gave us more freedom and ultimately saved our lives.

In September 1944, there was a final roundup of all Jews in occupied Holland except those in mixed marriages. We went first to Westerbork, then to Theresienstadt, a 36 hour ride in a box car. There we lived in barracks and then in one room. Conditions were extremely difficult and my brother contracted tuberculosis. One quarter of the population died in Theresienstadt and most were eventually shipped out to Auschwitz.

In May 1945 Russians liberated the camp. We returned to Amsterdam in June and resumed our lives. At that time, conditions in Holland with very difficult and with no family left in Europe, we immigrated to the U.S. in 1948.

Rosette Gerbosi

Rosette was born in Paris, France in 1932. Her father owned a fur coat factory, allowing her and the rest of her family a comfortable lifestyle. "Life was very good. We were able to go on vacations, and I was given every type of lesson imaginable: ballet, piano, and even English lessons."

When the Germans took control of France, Rosette was still a child in school. She was embarrassed to wear the Star of David on all her clothing. "[The school children] weren't too friendly to us because it was very dangerous to be friendly with Jewish girls."

After many arrests of close friends, Rosette's mother and father were convinced that it was time for Rosette to escape occupied France. A deal was made with a non-Jewish friend to take Rosette to live in Piegut, France –a zone relatively free of German occupation. She stayed in Piegut until the war's conclusion, where she was reunited with her older brother, Bernard, the only survivor of her immediate family.

Rosette volunteers her time with the Holocaust Museum and Education Center of Southwest Florida to share her story.

Steen Metz

Steen Metz was only eight years old in 1943 when he was arrested, along with his father and mother, and deported from his home in Denmark to the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp, in what was then Czechoslovakia. In 2011 Steen completed his memoirs, which includes A Danish Boy In Theresienstadt, a book about his experiences. Since then, one of his major missions has been to participate in Holocaust education by presenting programs in numerous venues, including colleges, universities, schools, libraries and museums.