Fate linked Frieda Kort and Charles Willner together from the day they were born to Jewish families in Nuremberg, Germany. They shared a birthday: December 18, 1907. Soon they would share a life together.
She had dreams of becoming a singer. He was adept at art, design and sewing. But they were coming of age as a dark cloud began to spread across Europe. Charles saw the writing on the wall and fled to Paris in 1933, as Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party rose to prominence. Frieda soon followed, but her parents and brother stayed behind in Germany.
The Willners rejoiced in the birth of their daughter Michele in 1938, just weeks after Kristallnacht. But there would be very little to celebrate in the years that followed. Charles was separated from the family. Frieda and Michele escaped Paris just as the city fell into the clutches of the Nazis. There was sickness, hardship, hunger, fear, and then, finally, the news that would break Frieda’s heart.
Now Michele Willner Levy is the keeper of her family’s history. She is among the youngest of the Holocaust’s survivors. She has a treasure trove of artifacts from that time: pictures, passports and handwritten letters that mask an unspeakable horror, and tie her to a past she never knew.
This is her story, in her own words.