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1946: The Pursuit of Justice
 pg. 639 
    As a snowstorm gathered on a late November day in 1946, a Jewish woman named Gerda Weissmann Klein headed home after finishing her grocery shopping in Buffalo, New York. Grocery shopping was important to her. Words and pictures on product labels were helping her learn English. Shelves stocked with food reassured her; their apparently unending abundance meant that she would never again be consumed by hunger.

After unpacking her groceries, Gerda took the bread she had purchased, sat by a window in her living room, and--as she watched the storm swirl--began to eat the loaf. Fresh though it was, the bread became salty and soggy, as tears fell upon her meal.

Holocaust survivor Gerda Klein, whose remarkable story became the subject of an Academy Award-winning documentary called One Survivor Remembers, recounts this episode in her memoir, All But My Life. As she ate, memory told her what was wrong. "During the long years of deprivation," she recalled, "I had dreamed of eating my fill in a warm place, in peace, but I never thought that I would eat my bread alone."

Married to Kurt Klein, a former U.S. Army lieutenant, Gerda was not alone in late November 1946--and yet she was. Born in 1924, Gerda Weissmann had witnessed the German occupation of her hometown, Bielitz, Poland, in 1939. She had spent years in Nazi forced-labor camps and endured brutal death marches in 1945 before American troops, among them Kurt Klein, liberated her in early May at Volary, Czechoslovakia.

After Kurt and Gerda met in Volary and fell in love, they married. They moved to Buffalo in September 1946 and began a long and successful life together. Nevertheless, what Gerda calls "a stabbing memory" or, in particular, "a pervasive loneliness" still afflicted her, for she had lost most of her family and many friends in the Holocaust.

While Gerda Klein coped with her pain, U.S. Brigadier General Telford Taylor tried to bring the Nazi perpetrators to justice. A skilled lawyer, Taylor had been part of the legal team assembled the year before by Robert H. Jackson, the U.S. Supreme Court justice who served as the chief American prosecutor at the International Military Tribunal (IMT). Including representatives from France, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union as well as the United States, the IMT had spent 12 months pursuing justice against 24 of the most significant Nazi leaders

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This Jewish Holocaust survivor, former prisoner B-12077, found fruitful work in Palestine.
Photo: Leni Sonnenfeld Photographer

1946: The Pursuit of Justice
 pg. 639 
The Holocaust Chronicle
© 2009 Publications International, Ltd.