A few weeks ago our family had the opportunity to listen to a presentation from Holocaust survivor Kitty Williams. The event took place at one of our local libraries and I had no idea what to expect in terms of attendance.
We arrived early in hopes of finding decent parking, however, much to my delight we had to park a few blocks away. Normally I would have grumbled at the parking situation, but I knew if we were parking this far away it had to mean the library was going to be packed for this presentation. A presentation that deserved and needed to be heard by as many people as possible.
All of the available chairs were already taken when we arrived. There were so many people packed in the library I was worried we would be turned away due to crowd limits. Thankfully that didn’t happen. My husband wandered around the library to see if he could locate some more chairs, and I found a spot on the floor in front of some chairs that still allowed a path for people to walk by.
We weren’t able to see Kitty Williams speak in person because there were so many people there we were situated around the corner. Luckily the library had anticipated this and already had speakers and a live video feed so we could hear her and see her on the screen.
Kitty Williams’ Holocaust Story
Kitty Williams’ story was shared with emotion and clarity. She was from Hungary and even though she had lived in our area for years her accent was still noticeable which made parts of her story difficult to understand at times. I found myself closing my eyes to listen to her words and that helped me black out the world around me and better focus on what she was saying. The room was filled with people but closing my eyes gave me the impression she was talking directly to me. Filling me in on every gruesome detail of what she had witnessed, and every horrifying situation she had been a part of.
Even my girls listened. At ages seven and nine they did a fantastic job of paying attention and having patience. They both understood the importance of hearing this story. We’ve been talking about the Holocaust some at home. Hearing about it from someone who lived through it was eye opening for them.
It doesn’t feel right for me to share the details of Kitty’s story with you, so I’ll share a video of a talk she gave at another library in the area a couple of years ago.
If you see the generic greyed out image on the video screen below just click on the play button and the video should start. The video is there and has not been removed.
After the Presentation
At the end of her talk both of my girls wanted to take some time to meet Kitty Williams. I wasn’t sure what they were going to say, or how they would react.
When it was finally their turn to speak to Kitty they approached her. Kitty immediately turned her focus to the girls. She thanked them for attending and told them how happy she was to see them. The kids thanked her for telling her story then asked if they could have a picture with her. She was happy to oblige and eagerly asked them to gather closer.
After the picture we told the girls it was time to go. Lena turned back to Kitty and said, “Thank you for the opportunity to learn about the Holocaust and thank you for letting me take a picture with you”. My heart melted. I wasn’t expecting those words from her, and neither was anyone else. Kitty smiled and told the girls how sweet they were. She said, “if everyone were like you girls there never would have been a Holocaust”. I could tell she treasured the short time she spent with the girls.
Holocaust Educational Resources
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- Institute for Holocaust Education
- Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect
- Echos and Reflections (empowers middle and high school educators with dynamic classroom materials and professional development.)
- Anti-Defamation League
- Holocaust and Genocide Studies
- Medicine After the Holocaust
- Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies
- Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum
- Midwest Center for Holocaust Education
- Holocaust Center for Humanity
- Holocaust Museum and Learning Center
- Yad Vashem – The World Holocaust Remembrance Center