By Lee Chottiner
Ann and Sandor Klein lived lives that resonate to this day.
Childhood sweethearts from the same village in Hungary, Sandor left for America in 1938, serving as an Army Air Corps sergeant during World War II.
Ann survived the Holocaust, went on to recount her story many times and became the inspiration for a state law mandating Shoah education in Kentucky.
“The events of my grandparents’ lives depict a truly American story,” said their grandson, Zach Kleinsmith, “encompassing all of the complex, loving and tragic circumstances that can be lived in two lifetimes.”
Kleinsmith, a Louisville native now living in Texas, will tell his grandparents’ stories during this year’s community Yom HaShoah program at 7 p.m., Thursday, April 8.
It’s the second year in a row that the program has had to be pre-recorded due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Ann and her family were trapped by the Nazis in 1944 when the country was occupied. Deported to Auschwitz, where she survived Dr. Josef Mengele’s deadly selection process, she worked in the camp kitchen, surviving the war when most of her family died.
Reunited after the war, she and Sandor, settled in Louisville. For years, she didn’t talk about her Holocaust experiences, but in 1996, a professor at the University of Louisville convinced her to record her story.
After that, Klein spoke often at schools, churches, even at Fort Knox.
She died in 2012. Six years later, after extensive lobbying, the Kentucky General Assembly finally adopted the Ann Klein and Fred Gross Holocaust Education Act.
In addition to Kleinsmith, the student journalists from duPont Manual High School who broke the news about anti-Semitic symbols and quotes in State Police and emergency training videos will be honored at the April 8 program, along with their faculty advisor.
As in past years, 11 candles will be lit to commemorate the victims and liberators of the Holocaust. The students of LBSY and St Francis of Assisi School will perform the narration.
The other participant are:
• Cantor David Lipp – opening and closing niguns
• Matt Goldberg – welcoming remarks;
• Rabbi Beth Jacowitz Chottiner – opening remarks;
• Fred Gross – Introduction of speakers;
• Cantor Sharon Hordes – Anshei Hagafrur;
• Matt and Kathy Karr – musical accompaniment to the scrolling of memorial names;
• Lipp – El Melei Rachamim.
A version of the Mourner’s Kaddish adapted by Elie Wiesel will be chanted and closing remarks will be made.