On February 15, 2011, President Obama will present Holocaust survivor and former United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Council member Gerda Weissmann Klein with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Gerda was born to a Jewish middle-class family in Bielsko, Poland. In 1942, she was deported to work in a textile mill in Bolkenhain, Silesia. Gerda was later sent to forced labor camps in Marzdorf, Landshut, and Gruenberg. She was liberated by the U.S. Army in May 1945. She met her husband when he and his troop liberated her and other women. She emigrated to the United States in 1946.
“Gerda Weissmann Klein’s story of strength and survival has inspired millions of people around the globe,” says Museum Director Sara J. Bloomfield. “Her impact has been extraordinary and her story a uniquely American one. She became one of her adopted country’s leading voices on the dangers of hate and the universality of human dignity, and it is fitting that she be honored with the nation’s highest civilian distinction. The Museum is proud that Gerda and her late husband Kurt were close partners of our institution, and we extend our heartfelt congratulations on this well deserved recognition.”
View a recorded video of the ceremony on WhiteHouse.gov.
In the video below, Gerda Weissmann Klein and Kurt Klein share their experiences of liberation and meeting for the first time.