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March 10, 2009

Contact Rick Kyte at 608-796-3704 or


LA CROSSE, Wis. – Holocaust survivor Manya Friedman will share her harrowing and incredible story of survival at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 26 in the Viterbo University Fine Arts Center Main Theatre.

Friedman lived in Sosnowiec, Poland, when the Nazis invaded in 1939. Her father was immediately selected for forced labor. Two years later, she was forced to work for a German company that made military uniforms. In 1942, the Nazis began deporting Jews from Sosnowiec to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, but she and her family were temporarily spared because of their work permits.

In March 1943, Friedman was taken to the Gleiwitz forced labor camp. She never saw her family again, as they had been deported to Auschwitz. In 1945, with the Soviet Army approaching, she and her fellow prisoners were transported for 10 days by open freight car in the bitter cold to the Ravensbruck concentration camp. During the trip, she suffered bruised and swollen arms from preventing a sick friend from being crushed to death in the overcrowded car. Later, she was moved to the Rechlin concentration camp, where she was rescued by the Swedish Red Cross in April 1945. She emigrated to the United States in 1950.

Friedman is now a volunteer at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and is an active member of the museum’s speakers bureau. Her appearance at Viterbo is part of an ongoing series featuring Holocaust survivors and is being held in conjunction with Teaching the Holocaust: A Workshop for Classroom Teachers at Viterbo March 26–27.

“We feel that providing this opportunity to hear firsthand testimony from survivors is an important service to the community,” said Rick Kyte, director of the D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics and Leadership. “Incredibly, we are still seeing headlines about people who deny that the Holocaust actually happened. So it’s important not only to hear the stories firsthand from the survivors themselves, but also to provide opportunities for teachers to learn how to responsibly pass these accounts and the lessons learned from them on to future generations.”

The event is free and open to the public. No registration is required, but seating is limited. The presentation is part of the 2009 D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership’s Spring Lecture Series.

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