Max Eisen is a survivor of the Holocaust who now lives in Toronto, Canada. Max was born Tibor Eisen in Moldava, Czechoslovakia in 1929 to an Orthodox family. He had two younger brothers, and a sister born during the war in 1943. When Czechoslovakia was partitioned in 1939, Hungarians occupied his town on his 10th birthday, immediately changing life in all ways. His family was deported in May 1944 for Birkenau, and all–save Max, his father, and his uncle–were immediately selected to the gas chambers. Max, his father, and his uncle worked as slave laborers until July 1944 when they were selected out, leaving Max as the sole survivor. Max then worked in the medical barracks of Auschwitz I under Dr. Orzeszko, a Polish political prisoner and chief surgeon of Auschwitz. In January 1945, he was sent on a death march to Mauthausen. From Mauthausen he was taken to Melk, and then to Ebensee, where he was liberated at Ebensee on May 6, 1945 by the 761st Black Panther Tank Battalion of the American army. After the war, he made his way back to Czechoslovakia and stayed until the Communist coup in 1949. Max immigrated to Canada in 1949, where he later met and married Ivy in 1952. They had twin sons. Max published his memoir in 2016, By Chance Alone, and today he continues to speak to students and share his story.
Ben Ferencz is an American lawyer, known especially for his work as an investigator of Nazi war crimes and as the chief prosecutor at the Einsatzgruppe Trial at Nuremberg.
Benjamin Berell Ferencz was born in 1920 in Transylvania, and immigrated with his family to Hell’s Kitchen of New York shortly after. After graduating Harvard Law School, in World War II he joined an anti-aircraft artillery battalion in the United States Army and served under General Patton. Near the end of the war, he was assigned to the Army’s war crimes division and was tasked with collecting evidence from the newly liberated concentration camps.
While he was honorably discharged after the war, he soon returned to Europe to join as the chief prosecutor at the Einsatzgruppe Trial at Nuremberg. He remained in Germany for a decade with his wife Gertrude and four children, and was key in organizing reparation and rehabilitation.
After practicing private law in the United States for some time, Ferencz focused on fighting atrocity crimes in the world. He advocated for the establishment of international law and the International Criminal Court, and has worked with the United Nations. To this day, he continues to speak out against violence, war, and injustice.
Alan Moskin is a veteran of World War II and liberator of the Gunskirchen Concentration Camp who now lives in Rockland County, New York. Alan Robert Moskin was born in 1926 in Englewood, New Jersey. His father was a pharmacist, served as elected city official, and eventually became one of the few Jewish mayors in New Jersey. When Alan was 16, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and America entered the war. In October 1944, Moskin was drafted in the US army and after completing his basic training Alan was deployed to England as a Private First Class in Patton’s Third Army, 66th Infantry, 71st Division. Alan fought on the front line across France through the Rhineland and into Austria. In May of 1945, Alan’s unit liberated a prisoners of war camp in Lambach, Austria and then they liberated the Gunskirchen Concentration Camp, a sub-camp of the Mauthausen concentration camp, where Alan and his fellow soldiers learned for the first time about Nazi mass murders of Jews and were shocked with suffering of the prisoners. Alan met the Victory Day in Europe in Wels, Austria. Until he was honorably discharged in June 1946, Moskin served in the army of occupation in Austria. He attended the Nuremberg Trials during this time. After the war, Alan returned to his studies in Syracuse University and then to New York University where he obtained his JD in 1951. Together with his ex-wife Krista, he has two daughters. After Alan has retired from his career in trial law and civil litigation, he spends his time volunteering with Jewish war veterans, speaking to students, working with local Holocaust museums, and as a volunteer color guard at naturalization ceremonies.
Lea Novera is a survivor of the Holocaust who now lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Lea Novera was born Liza Zajac in 1926 in Hajnowka, Poland to parents Ester and Aaron Zajac. She and her two siblings grew up in a lower middle class family and Lea attended Polish school. When the war began, they lived first under first Soviet and later Nazi occupation. In 1942, the family was forced to move to Pruzany ghetto and in 1943, they were deported to the Auschwitz camp complex. Upon arrival, Lea’s parents and siblings were murdered in the gas chambers. Her mother saved her by shouting to her to go with the “stronger looking” group and her aunt Sara; Lea lied about her age and became a slave laborer. After being struck in the knee, she developed tuberculosis and was infirmed in the camp hospital. There, she befriended a doctor who saved her from selections and helped to her survive. She was saved again when a secretary erased her name from a death order signed by Dr. Mengele. Lea eventually joined a cell of women who planned multiple acts of sabotage around the camp, including the dynamiting of the crematorium. She was sent on a death march with Sara in January 1945 and was liberated by Soviet Forces in April. Lea immigrated illegally to Argentina and married Holocaust survivor and partisan, Marcos Novera. They had two sons who were both kidnapped and tortured by the 1976-83 military dictatorship. She is an early member of the Holocaust Museum in Buenos Aires and the group, Generations of the Shoah and wrote the memoir, Historias de Mi Mochila.
Asia Shindelman is a survivor of the Holocaust who now lives in Wayne, New Jersey. Asia Shindelman was born Asia Levin in 1928 in Siauliai, Lithuania. Her father was a hairdresser and owned a hair salon. Asia had an older brother Zev. The family observed Jewish religious traditions and Asia studied at a Hebrew school. After Lithuania was annexed by the USSR in June 1940, the Soviet authorities seized Asia’s father business and Asia could continue her education only in Yiddish. On June 25, 1941, three days after Germany invaded the Soviet Union, Siauliai was occupied by German troops who introduced anti-Jewish measures and organized anti-Jewish roundups and arrests. Asia’s family lost track of her brother, who was at the time in Kaunas, and lately they realized that he was killed during the first days of the Nazi occupation. In August 1941, Asia was forced into the ghetto with her parents, uncle, and grandmother. In July 1944, Asia and her family were deported to Stutthof concentration camp. In Stutthof, she and her mother were separated from her father and uncle, who were transferred to Dachau concentration camp. Asia’s grandmother was immediately killed in a gas chamber. In a few weeks, Asia and her mother were transferred to Malken concentration camp and then to Dörbek, another Stutthof subcamp. Asia worked as a slave laborer in the camps, building military fortifications, until January 1945 when prisoners were sent on a death march. On March 10, 1945, Asia and her mother were liberated by the Soviet army near the village of Chinow in Pomerania, then Germany, now Poland. Three months later, they reunited with Asia’s father and together returned to Siauliai. In 1950, her father was sentenced to ten years of imprisonment allegedly for “anti-Soviet activities”, but was released in 1955. She married Yudel Shindelman in 1950 and they have two sons. Asia graduated from Riga University and worked as a chemical engineer in Riga, Latvia. Asia and her family immigrated to the USA in 1991. Asia regularly shares her story with schoolchildren and members of local community. In 2019, Asia was invited to witness in the trial of a former Stutthof camp guard.
Israel ‘Izzy’ Starck is a survivor of the Holocaust who lives in Chicago, Illinois. Izzy was born Israel Storch in 1929 in Podhorany, Czechoslovakia. He and his three sisters were raised in an orthodox household. After the Germans invaded his hometown in spring 1944, the Storch family was taken to the Munkacs ghetto and deported to Auschwitz II-Birkenau where Izzy was separated from his sisters and mother. He later learned his mother was gassed upon arrival. Izzy lied about his age during the selection and entered the camp with his father. Izzy and his father were then sent to Mauthausen where they were separated and his father died in Gusen. Izzy was then sent from Mauthausen to Melk, where he dug tunnels for the German air force. In early 1945, Melk was evacuated and he was sent to Ebensee where he was liberated from by the Americans on May 8, 1945. After the war, the American Army took Izzy back to his hometown of Podhorany, where he found that his two older sisters had survived the war. In 1948, Izzy and his sisters immigrated to the United States and he settled in Chicago. He started his own diamond cutting company. In 1957, he married Ethel and they had seven children. He and his family remained Orthodox.
Madame Xia is a survivor of the Nanjing Massacre who resides in Nanjing, China today. Madame Xia was born in Nanjing in 1929, to a family consisting of her parents, two older sisters, and two younger sisters. On December 13, 1937, the Japanese army entered the city of Nanjing, and began a series of rampage and massacre of innocent Chinese people. On that day, Madame Xia’s family faced the same fate. After the family had just eaten breakfast on December 13, Japanese soldiers broke into Madame Xia’s home and killed her parents, three of her sisters, her two grandparents, and another family of four. Madame Xia woke up to a home of a brutally murdered family, wounds on her back, and her four-year-old sister, still alive, crying for help. Madame Xia and her sister hid in the house for ten days with minimal water and food, and were finally rescued by old people living in an elderly home nearby. After a few weeks at the old people’s home, Madame Xia’s uncle, who fled Nanjing before the massacre, took Madame Xia and her sister in. Madame Xia lived with her uncle intermittently until the end of the war, and her living conditions improved significantly after the Communist Revolution and formation of the PRC in 1949. Madame Xia is one of the most active survivors of the Nanjing Massacre. After the war, she travelled multiple times to Japan to speak with scholars and sue right-wing members that denied the Massacre. She also spoke regularly at the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall in Nanjing, doing all she can to spread awareness on Chinese history. Today, Madame Xia has three children, three grandchildren, and four great grandchildren. She lives by herself with the support of her family and local community.