In Memory of Helen Colin

Mon, 07/25/2016 - 10:45am

We are sad to learn of the passing of Helen Colin, a Holocaust survivor who had the distinction of being the first survivor to speak on camera after being liberated from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

She was also one of the more recent people to be interviewed by USC Shoah Foundation. When he came across the black-and-white film of her being interviewed in the days after the war, USC Shoah Foundation Executive Director Stephen Smith sought her at her home in Texas and interviewed her again. It was, in fact, Colin’s second time being interviewed by the Institute. She was among the 53,000 survivors and witnesses who gave testimony in the 1990s.

Born April 15, 1923 in Lodz, Poland, Colin and her family were taken to the Lodz Ghetto in 1942. It was there that she met the man who would become her husband. They were reunited after the war and moved to Texas, where they opened a jewelry store and raised a family. She wrote a book about her experience called “My Dream of Freedom; From Holocaust to My Beloved America.”

Helen Colin was the first Holocaust survivor to speak on camera.

In addition to Bergen-Belsen, she also spent time at the Auschwitz death camp.

“Rest in peace, sweet Helen Colin,” Smith said. “I had the honor to know this lovely lady for just six weeks. Her story lives on.”

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Helen Colin and Her Daughter on Helen's Testimony

Helen Colin's daughter Muriel explains how their family first discovered the interview her mother gave at the liberation of Bergen-Belsen. Helen says she shares her story so that future generations can learn from it. This is part of the follow-up interview Helen gave to USC Shoah Foundation in June 2016.