Speakers Bureau

The Bureau of Jewish Education has a network of volunteers who are available to speak to school groups and organizations to share personal stories of the Holocaust. The personalized nature of a survivor speaking to your group will have greater impact than any story read or lesson taught. By bringing a speaker to your school or organization, the impact the Holocaust had on real peoples’ lives is made even more clear.

Many of the speakers available to come to your group are second generation survivors, meaning they tell their parents’ story. Survivors may be available based on your group’s proximity to Indianapolis and when the request is made.

There is no fee for speaking engagement but donations are welcome.


Speakers Biographies

Speaker: Maya Shmoel

Generation: Second Generation

Age Group: Middle School, Adult

Presentation Summary: On October 12th, 1941 her father’s childhood changed forever. Jews in Vatra Dorna we’re put on trains to an unknown destination. They traveled for eight days until reaching a labor camp, Shargorot, in the Ukrain. A month later her grandfather Yosef, passed away from a ruptured gallblatter. Her grandmother, Malka, was all alone with a six year old son, Marcus. Miraculously, her father’s cousins who were placed in another labor camp, Morgolev, paid a peddler to go get them from Shargorot. Once the family was reunited, her grandmother taught them how to knit sweaters due to the need for the Natzi soldiers. Using their wit and determination to survive, they outsmarted the Natzis by posting on their door a sign, Do Not Enter Sick With Typhoid!

Speaker: Julie Sondhelm

Generation: Third Generation

Age Group: Middle School, High School, Adult

Presentation Summary: Her grandfather, Al Katz was born in Paderborn, Germany. His family moved to Hannover when conditions for Jews became difficult. In Hannover, he survived Kristalnacht and his father was taken to Buchenwald, but was later released. The family was moved to the Riga Ghetto in 1941. Her grandfather was marched to the labor camp in Salzpilz. When the Riga Ghetto was liquidated in 1943 her grandfather lost his parents, older sister and younger brother. Her grandfather was moved to Dachau where he remained until being liberated by American soldiers at the end of the War.


Speaker: Susan Stiasny

Generation: Second Generation

Age Group: High School

Presentation Summary: Her father and grandfather escaped from a work camp and hid in the forest, working their way to Czechoslovakia, where her father’s uncle hid them until the end of the war. Her mother was the sole survivor of her family, making it through concentration camps. Her late mother-in-law survived two concentration camps, but lost a lot of her family. In this presentation, she weaves together these three stories of survival that come together in the United States.


Speaker: Phil Lande

Generation: Second

Age Groups: Middle School, High School, Adult

Presentation Summary: His father, Alexander Lande, was the sole survivor of his family. They resided in Transylvania, Romania which over the years was taken over by Austria/Hungry, Hungry and Romania. His father was in Auschwitz, then sent to a work camp, and finally to Dachu where he escaped with the help of a German soldier. Bullying, tolerance, dehumanization, respect and the equality of all humanity are an active part of the lecture.


Speaker: Dee Schwartz

Generation: Second

Age Groups: Middle School, High School, Adult

Presentation Summary: Dee is the only child of Isidor and Ida Muschel. They came to the U.S. in 1938 as a result of a miraculous sequence of events that spared their lives. Most of her extended family was killed by the Nazis and she grew up without knowing them, including her grandparents and close relatives. Her parents were fortunate to experience a seemingly normal life, but the Holocaust was ever present each day of their lives, even though they were spared from the camps. They did feel some sense of connection once she married and had three children. They did not live to see most of their six great-grandchildren, but were aware that their families continued.


Speaker: Steve Frankovitz

Generation: Second

Age Groups: Middle School, High School, Adult

Presentation Summary: His father, Jacob, lived in Nud Bunya, Romania when World War II began. When deported to Auschwitz in the spring of 1944, his entire extended family numbered 58. Upon arrival at Auschwitz, Jacob and his identical twin brother were selected by Dr. Joseph Mengele for medical experiments. He was the experimental twin, his brother was the control. He endured many experiments, including surgeries and injections. His father was murdered in the gas chambers and his sister was murdered in front of his wife. Of the 58 family members, only six survived.


Speaker: Brenda Freedman

Generation: Second

Age Groups: Middle School, High School, Adult

Presentation Summary: His mother was born in Stashuv, Poland. During the beginning of the war, the central portion of her town was turned into a ghetto and all Jews were forced to live in this small area. She and her family were then moved to the Kielce ghetto so the Nazis could consolidate where Jews were living. Shortly after arrival to the Kielce ghetto, she escaped. To hide from the Nazis, she changed her name and dyed her hair to look more Germanic. During the rest of the war, she worked on farms in Germany.


Speaker: Tibor Klopfer

Generation: Second

Age Groups: High School, Adult

Presentation Summary: His parents, Manci and Michael Klopfer were from Hungary and were imprisoned in concentration camps in Poland and Germany. In July of 1944, his mother was deported from a rural ghetto in Hungary to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Five weeks later, she was taken to a slave labor camp at Guben. Late in the winter, as Soviet troops advanced toward Guben on their way to Berlin, German solders forced Manci and others to leave Guben by foot. His father lost all of his immediate family, including his first wife and two young daughters. He spent much of the war in Hungarian and German forced labor camps. His presentation of his family’s experiences puts human faces on historical events and opens the door to a comprehension of the Holocaust and World War II history that goes beyond sterile renditions of dates, events and statistics.


Speaker: Esther Davidson

Generation: Second

Age Groups: Middle School, High School, Adult

Presentation Summary: Esther was born in Poland in 1941 and survived the Holocaust in the care of an elderly Polish Christian lady while her parents successfully evaded the Nazis. After the war, she was reunited with her parents and they all found their way to a Red Cross sponsored Displaced Persons Camp in Germany. They lived for four years until immigrating to America in 1949.


Speaker: Ed Davidson

Generation: Second Generation Rescuer

Age Groups: Middle School, High School, Adult

Presentation Summary: Ed’s father was born in Latvia and immigrated to America in 1921. He served as an interpreter during the Nuremberg Trails.  Ed, born in America, is a retired US Army officer. With his wife, Esther, he discusses the Nurenberg Trials, the Nazi Concentration Camp system and offers a candid visual tour of the Dachau Concentration Camp near Munich.


Speaker: Sharie Fields

Generation: Second

Age Groups: Middle School, High School, Adult

Presentation Summary: Her mother, Esther (Fishman) Davidson is a Holocaust survivor. The first five years of her life are somewhat of a mystery; but it is known that her mother, Nellie, was in a labor camp in Siberia, having fled her homeland of Poland. Nellie was the sole survivor of a large family; her husband, parents; all ten of her siblings, their spouses and their children were all exterminated by the Polish citizens who cooperated with Germany’s efforts to kill Jews. After the war ended, her mother spent 3 1/2 years in a Displaced Persons camp in Germany before immigrating to the United States at age 10.

For More Information

Contact the BJE Office at 317.255.3124 for additional information or to request a speaker for your school or organization.

Click here to request a Holocaust Speaker