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Karen Kirsten Recounts Family Holocaust Stories & Film of 1939 Krakow Documents Lost Community

by Wade Rubenstein, CCHRC Board Member

Two years ago, at the Town of Concord’s Holocaust Memorial Observance, my father told his story of loss and survival during the Shoah. Following the presentation, I was approached by Karen Kirsten, a local resident. Karen thanked me for documenting my father’s story and told me she was headed for Poland the following week to find her mother’s rescuers and shared the recent discovery of her family’s Jewish roots and the amazing story of her mother’s rescue.

On April 27th, 2014 at 7:00 PM, Karen will return to the Concord Town House to discuss her family’s story and to describe how her life has been impacted by the legacy of the Holocaust. Karen’s mother was born in the Warsaw ghetto, smuggled out and later rescued and hidden by various brave people – including a Nazi SS officer. Although born Jewish, Karen was raised Christian in Australia, and recently became a US citizen. She is in the process of writing a book.

In addition to Karen’s story, the Concord Carlisle Human Rights Council will present a travelogue of life in Krakow, Poland. Filmed in 1939, a few months before the Nazi invasion and occupation, the film shows Krakow’s Jewish quarter with all of its life and vitality. In a few short years, Krakow’s Jewish residents would be forced into a ghetto and liquidated. Its Jewish institutions and culture would be destroyed. A population of over 55,000 Jews before the war – a quarter of Krakow’s population – was reduced to 4,282 Jews after the war. These survivors were met with murderous progroms in 1945. Today, only a few hundred Jews remain in Krakow. The film dramatically illustrates what was lost in the brutality of the Holocaust. Karen’s talk illustrates what can happen when people stand against brutality.

Karen and I both recognized the miracle of our own lives in the shadow of unimaginable inhumanity. We feel a responsibility to tell our families’ stories and preserve the memory of the victims of the Holocaust. I hope you will join us and attend this important commemoration on April 27 at the Town House at 7:00 PM. Attendance is free and open to the public.

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