WWII Survivors Visit With MMS Eighth Graders
Mrs. Melitta Stein was from a Jewish family in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Her family was first imprisoned in Theresienstadt where she was one of 15,000 children. Only 132 of those children are known to have survived. She was also moved to Auschwitz, Hamburg and Bergen-Belsen before being liberated in 1945. Her parents and sister all perished in the camps, making Mrs. Stein the sole survivor from her immediate family. She returned to Prague after the war, married and had children. She fled Czechoslovakia in 1968 to escape the Soviets and immigrated to the United States at that time.
Mrs. Vera Bej shared her non- Jewish experience of the war. She was from a wealthy family in Ukraine and was 5 years old when war broke out. Her family fled Ukraine when the Soviets took control. They were on the list to be sent to Siberia labor camps because of their wealth. They traveled for months with a wagon and six horses but were eventually arrested in Austria by Germans and put into labor camps. After a few months, her father bribed officials to release her mother, sister and herself. Her mother was pregnant at this point and could not keep up with the factory quotas. They would not see her father for another five years. Separated by the Iron Curtain after World War II, her father worked with the UN to guarantee their safe passage to the west to be reunited. Eventually the immigrated to the U.S. where Mrs. Bej became a history teacher at Cumberland Valley. She was named the Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year in 1988.