Wendy Smith Meyer

My Family’s Lived Experience

Wendy Smith Meyer first learned about the USC Shoah Foundation in 1996, when her parents, Alfred and Selma Benjamin, gave their testimony. She attended part of the interview, when her parents, who grew up in Nazi Germany, gave their first-person accounts of increasing Jewish persecution.

Her uncles, Owen and Edgar Hirsch, and aunt Elise Le Hu also gave testimony.

“The reach, horror and effects of the Holocaust have been real to me since childhood because they were a real part of my family’s lived experience,” Smith Meyer said. “As a young person, I read everything I could about the Holocaust, in an attempt to understand how such things could have happened.”

A clinical associate professor and associate dean at the USC School of Social Work, Wendy and her husband Barry Meyer, former chairman and CEO of Warner Bros., have been ardent supporters of the Institute for more then a decade.

Barry Meyer has long been passionate about supporting Jewish causes. He was at the helm of Warner Bros. when the studio produced Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport, the Academy Award-winning 2000 documentary about a rescue operation that saved more than 10,000 Jewish children from capture during Nazi Germany.

“My husband’s critical support of Into the Arms honored the sacrifices of families torn apart during these years in a way similar to the Shoah Foundation’s work,” Smith Meyer said. “He, too, feels a deep connection to the mission.”

Together, the couple wants to help ensure that the Institute continues to educate present and future generations about the dangers of racism, nationalistic extremism and religious discrimination.

“The work of the USC Shoah Foundation is precious,” Smith Meyer said. “Its role in preserving a painful part of human history is as important as its potential role in making the future of all peoples more respectful and accepting of difference and variation.”