April 12, 2010

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By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Hanka Kent will give the talk, "A Child Survivor of the Holocaust," Monday, April 19, at 7:30 p.m. in Bucknell Hall at Bucknell University.

The talk, which is free and open to the public, is part of the University's observance of Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is sponsored by Campus Jewish Life and Bucknell Hillel.

"Emil Fackenheim, one of the great Jewish philosophers of the 20th century, proposed one additional commandment to the 613 that exist in the Talmud," said Rabbi Serena Fujita, the Jewish chaplain at Bucknell. "The 614th commandment that he proposed was: to continue Jewish life, to deny Hitler a posthumous victory, and to never forget the Holocaust.

"In hearing the stories of those who survived this most horrific event in the history of humankind, we Jews celebrate life, celebrate our relationship to each other and to the generations that preceded us and celebrate our relationship to God, Fujita said. "By listening to those who lived as well as remembering those who perished, we absolutely deny victory to those who tried to exterminate us. It is in this context that we have invited Hanka Kent, to share the story of her childhood/"

 Upheaval, hiding and escape
Kent was born in Chelm, Poland, in 1930. Her early life was marked by political upheaval, beginning with the Russian occupancy of Poland in 1939. Following the Russian departure, Jews were killed during the pogroms and her father's shop was destroyed before the family was forced into a ghetto by the Germans.

After her father was taken away, presumably to the Treblinka working camp, Kent went into hiding with her mother and younger sister in a cellar with 20 other people. After her mother was shot trying to collect snow for drinking water, Kent and her sister escaped to her grandfather's town of Rejowiec where her sister was killed by a member of the SS (Schutzstaffel - Protection Squadron).

Kent was sent to several concentration camps beginning with Majdanek, where she worked at repairing roads, then to two different ammunition camps before being taken to Bergen-Belsen, where she saw her first crematorium.

After Bergen-Belsen, Kent was taken to Turkeim in Bavaria, where she escaped into the woods with a group of other prisoners just as American soldiers arrived at the end of the war. After falling ill with typhoid and typhus, she was sent to a United Nations orphans camp. In 1946, at age 16, she was taken to the United States, where she was adopted by Arthur and Serta Sanders.

Contact: Division of Communications


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