Remembering the past, shaping the future: listening to Manfred Korman’s Holocaust testimony

Remembering the past, shaping the future: listening to Manfred Korman’s Holocaust testimony
Manny Korman with Weber Middle School students. (Photo courtesy of Shannon Vulin)

Manfred “Manny” Korman shared his remarkable story of survival of the Holocaust as a guest speaker at Weber Middle School.

Korman’s experiences as a Holocaust survivor and Kindertransport survivor have deeply influenced his life and work. He has shared his story with audiences around the world and has become an advocate for Holocaust education and remembrance.

“There was a knock at my door. We were told we had between 30-60 minutes to pack our bags and head to the police station,” Korman, who was a young child in Hamburg, Germany in 1938, recalled.

Germany was collecting all families whose heads of household were from Poland. Hustled into a departing train, the Korman family was forced off at the last town in Germany before Poland.

“We had German soldiers with guns behind us and Polish soldiers with guns in front of us,” Korman said.

Korman’s father was able to find a rented room in a farmhouse, and there they stayed until April 1939.

“It was Passover, and my parents were informed that heads of households could return to Germany to take care of their homes,” Korman said. “My father, who rarely waved, waved goodbye to us with two hands. We didn’t know if we would ever see him again.”

Knowing she had no other choice, Korman’s mother decided to separate from and send her two young sons off to England’s Kindertransport program, which was accepting up to 10,000 Jewish children.

“It was a gamble, and she didn’t know if she would see us again,” Korman said. “We left for England on Aug. 24, 1939. On Sept. 1, 1939, Hitler bombed Warsaw and WWII began.”

The divided Korman family would not be together again until they all reached the U.S. in 1946 – their journey back to each other fraught with peril.

The ship that Korman, his brother and his mother took to travel to the U.S. escaped from U-Boats that bombed and sank the ships both in front and behind them.

Korman’s father, turned away from the U.S. in 1939 as he sat on a ship in the waters off Miami Beach, finally found passage by accompanying a group of hidden children from Holland years later.

“I was a nail biter, I stammered and was a bed wetter until my father arrived in the United States,” Korman said. “And then we became a family again.”

“Manfred Korman’s story is a powerful reminder of the atrocities that occurred during the Holocaust, and the importance of never forgetting the lessons of history,” Michael Hynes, superintendent of Port Washington School District, said. “We are honored to have him share his story with our community, and we hope that his words will inspire us all to work towards a better future.”

Students had the opportunity to hear Korman’s firsthand account of the Holocaust, ask questions and learn more about his experiences.

Korman was brought to Weber Middle School, thanks to a former student and current Schreiber High School student, Sam Feldman. A participant in the Witness Project, Sam was introduced to Korman and connected him to his former social studies teacher at Weber Middle School, Tom Barbara.

Through events, programs and community outreach, Witness Project works to ensure that the lessons of the Holocaust are never forgotten and that future generations are empowered to stand up against hatred and prejudice.

“What should we as human beings be doing?” Korman asked the crowd of middle school students. “We have a responsibility of caring for each other and caring for people we don’t know. We can’t sit back and say, ‘Let the other guy take care of it.’”

No posts to display


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here