I was watching TV today when President Obama was giving out the Medal of Freedom awards to 14 people. As soon as I heard him say the name Gerda Weissmann Klein, I immediately thought that she must be a “Holocaust survivor” and I was right. President Obama gave a short speech about her story, including the fact that she had survived “a 350 mile march.” He didn’t say where the march started, nor where it ended, but he did call it a “death march.”
Here are the exact words that President Obama used to introduce Gerda Weissmann Klein:
By the time she was 21, Gerda Klein had spent six years living under Nazi rule — three of them in concentration camps. Her parents and brother had been taken away. Her best friend had died in her arms during a 350-mile death march. And she weighed only 68 pounds when she was found by American forces in an abandoned bicycle factory. But Gerda survived. She married the soldier who rescued her. And ever since — as an author, a historian and a crusader for tolerance — she has taught the world that it is often in our most hopeless moments that we discover the extent of our strength and the depth of our love.
“I pray you never stand at any crossroads in your own lives,” she says, “but if you do, if the darkness seems so total, if you think there is no way out, remember, never ever give up.” (more…)