Monday, April 20, 2015

Holocaust Survivor to Speak at Cumming Library on May 17

In partnership with Atlanta’s William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, the Cumming Library will host a special presentation from George Rishfeld, a Holocaust survivor, on Sunday, May 17 at 2:00 p.m.

Rishfeld’s “Memories of the Holocaust” presentation is part of the library’s One World Forsyth cultural series and will include an overview of the Holocaust, as well as stories, personal accounts, and photos from Rishfeld’s family. Seating for the event is limited.

Originally named Jureck, George Rishfeld was born in Warsaw, Poland on April 26, 1939. He was the only child of Richard and Lucille Rishfeld, who owned a fur business.

Barely five months after George was born, Nazi forces invaded Warsaw and his family fled to the Lithuanian city of Vilna. Soon, Nazi forces occupied Vilna and George’s family was forced to live in the Vilna ghetto where food was scarce, sanitation was horrible, and sickness was rampant.

After Nazis killed George’s aunt, baby cousin, and his grandparents, George’s parents decided on a daring plan to save their child. George’s father found a way to contact Halinka Fronckvics and her father, both of whom had been employed in his fur business. The Fronckvics family agreed to care for George during the war and return him to his parents if they survived, or to raise him as their own son if his parents did not survive.

George’s parents kissed their small son goodbye and tossed him over a fence, into the arms of Halinka Fronckvics, who carried him home to her parents and kept him hidden from Nazi forces.

George and his mother in Belgium, after WWII
Image courtesy of George Rishfeld and the
William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum
During his presentation, Rishfeld will talk about the difficulties of pretending not to be a Jewish child and his longing for the parents who could not be with him during World War II. He will discuss how his father escaped the ghetto to join the resistance and what became of his mother after she was transferred to a number of different ghettos.

Rishfeld will share photos of his family before and after the war, as well as the story of how he came to the United States and later joined the Army so he could help defend the country that had become a refuge for his family.

As an adult, Rishfeld says he came to understand how much the Fronckvics family risked to save him and he appreciates their extraordinary courage and kindness. Through his speaking engagements with the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, Rishfeld hopes to encourage people to “[b]e kind to one another. Respect yourself, but also respect people of different religions and races.”

A brief question-and-answer session will follow Rishfeld’s presentation. For more information on this or other One World Forsyth programs, please visit www.forsythpl.org.

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