Grandchild of four Holocaust survivors, Arik Cohen tells their stories of perseverance, luck, and resilience while calculating the incredible odds of their survival.
Arik's manal grandparents, Arye Schneider and Masha Klein, were born in Lithuania. Arye was born in Šaukėnai (Shukyan), Lithuania, where in 1941 nearly the whole Jewish population was murdered. Arye escaped and made his way to the Siauliai (Shavli) ghetto, where he met his wife Masha, a teacher who hailed from Neverenai (Nevaran). After the Shavli Ghetto massacre in November 1943, Arye and Masha hid in the woods for eight months until the Soviet Army liberated Lithuania.
Arik's paternal grandparents were from the Transylvania region in Romania. His grandfather Emil Kohn grew up in Suplac, while his grandmother Eva Hirsch wasGherla. In May 1944, Emil and Eva were in Oradea when the ghetto was formed along with 35,000 other Jews, and not long af they were both deported to Auschwitz. After being separated upon arrival at Auschwitz, Eva was then sent to Stutthof to be used as slave labor, until she was forced on a death march in January 1945 and eventually liberated by the Soviet Army. Emil was liberated from Buchenwald in April of 1945 and found his way back to Eva.
Amazingly, both couples ended up living in the small beach town of Nahariya, Israel, and two of their children (Arik's parents) met and married. Today Arik lives in Bellevue, works at Microsoft, and shares his grandparents' stories.
Andrea and Joanna D’Asaro and their mother Barbara Sachs D’Asaro tell the story of Barbara’s childhood in Nazi Germany, and her escape as a young girl.
Barbara was born Bärbel Sachs near Rostock, Germany on August 18, 1927. She was adopted by a Jewish couple, Erich and Johanna Sachs, who lived in Berlin.
When Hitler came to power in 1933, the Nazi regime made life increasingly difficult for Jews in Germany. As a result, Barbara’s parents bribeds to destroy documents about her adoption, which noted that a non-Jewish child had been adopted into a Jewish family. Barbara lived a happy childhood as her parents attempted to protect her from the growing danger they faced. Despite their best efforts, Barbara was still exposed to Nazi propaganda. She experienced the rapid takeover of Nazi ideology and policies into everyday life, including schools and youth organizations.
With the escalation of persecution in Germany, Barbara’s parents decided that for their family’s safety, it would be best to leave the country. Although Barbara’s status, being non-Jewish by birth, may have been safe, her parents’ certainly was not. They were able to find two sponsors in New York City who would support them in their move to the United States.
The Sachs family arrived by ship in New York harbor in 1938 and began to build a life in New York City. Barbara attended Oberlin College in Ohio and later Cornell University. At Cornell, Barbara met her future husband Arthur D’Asaro, and they married in 1953. Barbara and Arthur had four children. Barbara used a master’s degree in Nutrition to direct health oriented classes, and Arthur used his doctorate in physics in his job at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey. Barbara’s parents had some relatives who scated all over the world due the Holocaust, and others who were murdered by the Nazis.
In 2017 Andrea, a teacher, helped Barbara put her family story together into a presentation for classrooms. With the help of the Holocaust Center, Barbara, Joanna, and Andrea are now part of the Speakers Bureau to share Barbara’s unique experience during World War II.
Granddaughter of Hungarian Auschwitz survivor Vera Frank Federman, Breeze Dahlberg shares her grandmother's story.
Izzy Darakhovskiy was born in 1936 and grew up in Yampol, Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union. He was a young boy of five when the Germans invaded Ukraine in 1941. Not long after, Izzy and his family were forced to move to a ghetto in town. In September 1942, Jews from Yampol were rounded up and deported to a slave labor camp. Izzy and the other prisoners lived in primitive barracks made out of thin wood, with 35 people in one room. People were hungry and cold all the time, and the work never ceased. Izzy saw Nazis shoot and kill his own grandfather because he was unable to work.
The camp was liberated by the Soviet Army in 1944. Izzy returned to Yampol, but the war continued for several months, and then a se e famine made life very difficult. Izzy’s father returned from the front lines, but many, many in the community had died or were seriously injured. Moreover, during this time antisemitism remained prevalent in the society and politics of the Soviet Union. The suffering of Jews during the Holocaust was not recognized, and Jews faced obstacles to go to school or get jobs.
Although Izzy went to school in Yampol, it lacked textbooks and even paper. Izzy loved to read and dreamed of being a teacher or doctor. Despite his high achievement and test scores, Izzy was not accepted at several choice universities. Instead, after being drafted into the Soviet Army for three years, Izzy was finally able to attend the State University in Moldova.
Izzy eventually completed two doctorate degrees and began a 28-year career as an economist with the prestigious Academy of Sciences in the Soviet Union. When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, Izzy and his family immigrated to the United States the following year. They lived first in Rochester, New York, and since 2011 here in the Seattle area.
Izzy has been asked to lecture at the United Nations, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Woodrow Wilson Cen , and other institutions. He has also written nine books, including a memoir and a book for children inspired by his granddaughters. Izzy is a current member of the Holocaust Center’s Speakers Bureau.