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Gerda Weissmann was the second child of a Polish-Jewish family. She attended gymnasium in her home town of Bielsko until the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939 at the start of World War II. Both of her parents and her older brother died during the Holocaust. Gerda survived the ghetto, slave labor camps, and a three-month death march from the Polish-German border to southern Czechoslovakia. In May 1945, Gerda was liberated by United States Army troops; among them was Lt. Kurt Klein, a German-born Jew serving as an intelligence officer. The two fell in love and were married in 1946 in Paris, before travelling to the USA. The couple had three children. In 1957, Gerda Weissmann Klein published her first book, All But My Life, a memoir of her extraordinary experiences during the Holocaust. It has been used as a primary source for Holocaust studies in the USA and the UK. Her life was also the subject of an HBO special, One Survivor Remembers, which won an Academy Award for Best Documentary–Short in 1996, a TV Emmy Award, and two Cable Ace Awards. Her story is also part of the permanent exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Gerda Weissmann Klein also has written biography and two children’s books, The Blue Rose (1974) and Promise of a New Spring: The Holocaust and Renewal (1981). She was the featured columnist of "Stories for Young Readers," a weekly column in the Buffalo Sunday News for more than 17 years. The Hours After: Letters of Love and Longing in War’s Aftermath, a series of love letters between Gerda and her husband Kurt, was published in 2000. Gerda Weissmann Klein has received many prestigious awards, including the Hannah Solomon Award from the National Council of Jewish Women in 1974, the Myrtle Award from Hadassah in 1985, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. She became an internationally recognized public speaker and has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show and 60 Minutes.
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