July 31, 2000
KURT AND GERDA KLEIN FEATURED AT HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM’S BOOK-AND-AUTHOR LUNCHEON
Authors Will Discuss Their New Book, The Hours After, Chronicling the Love Between a Liberator and Holocaust Survivor
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Kurt and Gerda Klein will share their extraordinary story of love and hope after the Holocaust at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s annual Book-and-Author Luncheon on Monday, October 23, at noon at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers. The Kleins will discuss their new book, The Hours After, Letters of Love and Longing in War’s Aftermath (St. Martin’s Press, 2000). A book signing will follow the program.
Kurt Klein, an American GI in the Fifth Infantry Division, met Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissmann, starved and close to death, on May 7, 1945. Gerda was one of 120 survivors of a death march that had taken her and a group of 2000 Nazi slave laborers from a series of forced labor camps in Germany to a town at the German-Czechoslovak border.
Kurt had fled Nazi oppression in 1937 and felt a special affinity for Gerda, as well as for the other prisoners. After liberation and a subsequent two-month recuperation period in a hospital in Volary, Czechoslovakia, Gerda moved to Munich, where she worked for the American-supervised Civilian Censorship Division. Forced to separate just weeks after liberation and hours after their engagement, Gerda and Kurt began a correspondence that lasted until their reunion and wedding in Paris a year later. The poignant letters that form the core of The Hours After reflect upon the horrors of war and genocide, show a coping with the trauma life can bring, but above all, are a testament to the rapture and salvation of true love.
“We’re honored to have Kurt and Gerda Klein share their inspirational story in Chicago,” states the Book-and-Author Event Chair, Sally Kovler. “This is a special opportunity for Chicagoans to hear first hand one of the most remarkable and hopeful stories to emerge from the tragedy of the Holocaust.”
Gerda Klein’s writings also include her autobiography, All But My Life, which has been printed 47 times in the 43 years since its debut. Her story was featured in the HBO documentary, One Survivor Remembers, which won a TV Emmy Award, two Cable Ace Awards, and, in 1996, an Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Kurt Klein’s family’s story was the focus of a PBS documentary, America and the Holocaust, an examination of the political climate in the United States during the Nazi era. After fleeing to the United States in 1937, Kurt and his siblings were unable to secure their parents’ entry into the country. They perished in the Holocaust.
In April 1998, The Kleins founded the Gerda and Kurt Klein Foundation, based in Narbeth, PA, to promote education, teach tolerance, lessen prejudice and discrimination, and encourage community service. In 1997, President Clinton appointed Gerda Klein to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, the governing body of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
This year’s Book-and-Author Luncheon benefits the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Education and Remembrance Fund. Event Chairs are Sally and Jonathan Kovler. Co-Chairs are Ann and Paul Krouse. Last year, Book-and-Author programs were held in six cities attracting more than 2,000 people, and 850 in Chicago. The event is organized through the Museum’s Midwest Regional Office.
To arrange media coverage of the luncheon, or an interview with Kurt or Gerda Klein, or to receive a copy of The Hours After, please contact the Holocaust Museum’s Media Relations Department, Andy Hollinger: 202.488.6133 or firstname.lastname@example.org.