On Thursday, April 24, Bronia Brandman told a packed house at Wagner College about her experience during the Holocaust. Brandman, a survivor of Auschwitz and co-author of “The Girl Who Survived: A True Story of the Holocaust,” is a gallery educator and member of the Speakers Bureau of the Museum of Jewish Heritage: A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.
With the help of a family photo album, Bronia Brandman traced the fate of the eight members of her family who were caught up in the Nazi campaign to exterminate the Jews of Europe. When war broke out in September 1939, they fled their home in Jaworzno, Poland, moving from town to ghetto and witnessing terrible violence. Her older brother was taken to Blechhammer Labor Camp. Bronia was deported to Auschwitz at age 12 with her three sisters, where she was imprisoned for 18 months. She alone survived, escaping the gas chambers, typhus and a death march.
Formerly a public school teacher, after Brandman retired she began to speak openly — for the first time — about her Holocaust experiences. Among her mementos of those horrors, she has paperwork from Auschwitz showing her name and the number tattooed on her arm.
Wagner College Hillel Co-Presidents Melanie Krongold and Rachel Kaufman, Chai Society Board Member Stephen Greenwald, history professor Lori Weintrob and Interim Provost Jeffrey Kraus will speak briefly before the event. Local holocaust survivors will be invited to light a candle.
“Since this year is the 75th Anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, this may be one of the last opportunities for students to hear from an eyewitness to the Nazi persecution of the Jews of Europe,” said Professor Weintrob, who has taught Holocaust courses for 20 years at the college. “Bronia Brandman was only 12 years old when she was deported to Auschwitz. Her talk offers oral and visual testimony to the horrors that Nazi anti-Semitism brought, which destroyed her Polish Jewish community.”