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Juniata Hosts Presentation by Holocaust Survivor

(Posted October 25, 2010)

Judy Meisel, a survivor of the Stutthof concentration camp, speaks at Juniata at 7 p.m., Oct. 28.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Judy Meisel, a survivor of the Stutthof concentration camp and an activist for civil rights, will present at Juniata College a documentary film about her life, "Tak for Alt: Survival of the Human Spirit," and will lead a discussion of the film at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 28, in Alumni Hall in the Brumbaugh Academic Center on the Juniata campus.

The program is free and open to the public.

Judy Meisel was born in Josvainai, Lithuania in 1929, one of three children of a lumber and cattle merchant. When the Nazi army invaded Lithuania in 1941, the country's Jewish population was isolated in the Kovno ghetto. Meisel was forced to work as a slave laborer in a factory making rubber boots for the German army.

In 1944, Meisel and the rest of her family were transported to the Stutthof concentration camp, which was located in Poland, right outside of the city of Danzig (now Gdansk).

At the camp, Meisel was separated from her mother as the family stood in line as inmates were selected for work or death. She never saw her mother again. By the end of 1944, the guards left the camp, leading the inmates on a death march. Those who couldn't walk were shot. As the group walked, the column came under bombardment by Russian troops and Meisel and her sister were able to walk away from the group.

"I speak in memory of those who did not survive."
Judy Neisel

The two girls eventually made their way to a convent and then to Denmark. When Denmark was liberated in 1945, Meisel spent more than two years in a sanitarium in Denmark recuperating.

"Tak for Alt," (which means "Thanks for Everything in Danish) follows Meisel as she retraces her steps back to Eastern Europe through the Kovno ghetto, to the concentration camp where she was transferred and to Denmark, where she escaped and recovered from her harrowing ordeal.

Other members of her family in Lithuania did not survive. She counts 146 members of her family as victims who were shot. She emigrated to Canada in 1949 and eventually moved to Philadelphia. She now lives in California.

Meisel worked in the civil rights movement in the 1960s. She now takes the film about her life and travels to high schools and colleges across the country. "I speak in memory of those who did not survive," she says in her press biography.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.