SAN FRANCISCO and NEW YORK (June 15, 2016) — Dr. George Elbaum of San Francisco, a businessman and aerospace engineer, who writes and speaks about his experience as a child survivor of the Holocaust, was awarded an Honorary Fellowship on June 5 from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. The ceremony took place during the Technion Board of Governors (BOG) meeting (June 4-8, 2016) on the university campus in Haifa.
Accompanied by his wife, Mimi Jensen, Dr. Elbaum was recognized for “devotion to the Technion and Israel . . . business accomplishments that have spanned the globe and bridged countries . . . and for sharing (your) story, in order to impart the message of tolerance to present and future generations.”
A steadfast supporter of the Technion and Israel, Dr. Elbaum is an active member of the American Technion Society (ATS) National Board of Directors, the ATS North Pacific Region Board and the Technion Board of Governors.
Together with his wife, he is a Technion Guardian — an honor reserved for those who support the Technion at the highest level. The couple has supported the Technion with gifts that include the George J. Elbaum Fund for the Satell Technion-MIT Leadership Program, the Whiteman International Foundation Fellowships (named after Dr. Elbaum's mother) in the Grand Technion Energy Program, and the Formula Student Race Car project.
Dr. Elbaum was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1938. As a child, he was smuggled out of the Warsaw ghetto and lived with a series of Polish families who hid him and his Jewish identity from the Nazis. Only he and his mother survived, as they lost 10 family members to the Holocaust. In 1949, Dr. Elbaum immigrated to the U.S., and in 1955 he enrolled at MIT, where he earned four degrees — a bachelor’s and a master’s in aeronautics and astronautics, along with a second master’s and a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering.
He began his career in Los Angeles in the aerospace industry, and then moved into the international business arena. In 1972, he co-founded Intertorg, a consulting firm representing American and European corporations in the Soviet Union (including General Motors, U.S. Steel, Reebok, etc.), where he marketed their products and services. After 25 years, he switched gears again, turning to commercial real estate investment and development.
In 2010, he wrote and published Neither Yesterdays Nor Tomorrows, a book of vignettes from his childhood during the Holocaust, and started speaking to student groups across the U.S. and in Poland about survival and tolerance. In 2014, he followed his first book with a second volume, Yesterdays Revisited, about the feedback/letters he’s received from students at the 100-plus venues where he’s spoken.
The five-day BOG meeting was comprised of award ceremonies and dedications, presentations by speakers that included Middle East expert Ambassador Dennis B. Ross, and other events such as an Innovation Panel Discussion, featuring Technion graduates such as Dov Moran, inventor of the DiskOnKey (USB flash drive). Other San Francisco-area participants included Ruth Owades and Lou Lenzen.
Photo: George Elbaum (right) receiving an Honorary Fellowship from Technion President Professor Peretz Lavie at an awards ceremony on the Haifa campus on June 5, 2016.
“My mother, my sister, my grandmother were hidden in a convent, dressed as nuns... I was too young to be in the convent, so I was hidden with a Catholic family, a couple [with] no children. They pretended I was a cousin from the countryside." - Agi Day
Agi Day (née Zagorka Hertzog) was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia on May 13, 1940 into a Jewish family. One year later, Nazis invaded the country and she and her family escaped on foot, walking 196 miles to Budapest, Hungary. Since the country’s leader Miklos Horthy had pledged in 1940 that Hungarian Jews would not be deported, the family thought they were heading towards a safe haven. In March 1944, however, German forces occupied Hungary and the Nazis, in collaboration with the Hungarian Arrow Cross began sending Jews to concentration camps.
After Agi’s father left to hide in the countryside, her mother convinced a local Catholic priest to hide herself, her mother, and her two young daughters. He allowed them to stay, but space was scarce. As a four-year-old, Agi lived with multiple Catholic families who passed her off as their own to keep her alive. She was finally reunited with her family after liberation on May 1, 1945, only to flee once again to escape Russian communism. In 1946 they left by night on a dangerous boat voyage across Lake Neusiedl to Austria where they found refuge in Displaced Persons camps over the next three years. Eventually her mother moved to Canada to work and save up money for her daughter’s passage. Agi lived with her father in Vienna from 1949 until 1951 when she voyaged to Toronto, Ontario and reunited with her mother.
Agi went on to become a teacher, later moving to Seattle in 1978 to receive her Master’s in Organizational Communication and practice real estate. She remains involved with the Holocaust Center for Humanity's Speakers Bureau and tells her story to communities around the Pacific Northwest.
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In 1946, Agi's family left by night on a dangerous boat voyage across Lake Neusiedl to Austria where they found refuge in Displaced Persons camps over the next three years.
“I was 18, 19, 20. I was not married. I did not have any responsibility–only for myself–and that made a big difference...I felt I could help. I had the opportunity.” - Carla Peperzak
Carla Peperzak was born to a Jewish father and Catholic-born mother in Amsterdam in 1923. Carla was a typical youth of the time. She played field hockey, skated on Amsterdam’s canals, and went to parties. She also attended synagogue and Hebrew school where one of her fellow students was Margot Frank, the older sister of Anne Frank. In 1940, the year Carla graduated from high school, Germany invaded the Netherlands. By 1941 the Nazis forced Dutch Jews to register with the state, and they were issued identification papers marked with a “J.” Due to her mother’s Catholic upbringing, her father was able to have Carla’s papers changed to remove the mark. By 1942, Dutch Jews were being forced to wear the Star of David, and her father’s business had been seized.
That year, at the age of 18, Carla joined the Dutch resistance. She helped save her aunt, uncle, and two cousins, hiding them at a farmhouse in the Dutch countryside. Later, disguised as a German nurse, Carla rescued her young cousin from a train bound for Westerbork, a transit camp for Dutch Jews who were then sent to killing centers in Nazi-occupied Poland. Throughout the war, she continued to secure hiding places for Jews, published an underground newspaper, and created fake identification papers and ration cards. While Carla and her immediate family survived the Holocaust, 18 members of her family did not. In the aftermath of the war, she met her husband Paul, a Dutch Catholic. In the ensuing decades, Carla lived and traveled across the world with her husband, who worked for the United Nations. In 2004 she moved to Spokane and has been actively engaged in sharing her story as part of the Holocaust Center for Humanity's Speakers Bureau.
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In Memory Of My Family Lost in the Holocaust - By Carla Peperzak
Carla Peperzak: Guest speaker at North Idaho College (2013, 57:39)
Impacting Generations - Rockwood Retirement video featuring resident Carla Peperzak (3:49)
"Freedom fighter: Spokane’s Carla Peperzak protected fellow Jews through Dutch Resistance" (The Spokesman-Review, 2015)
Biography - Carla Peperzak
That year, at the age of 18, Carla joined the Dutch resistance. She helped save her aunt, uncle, and two cousins, hiding them at a farmhouse in the Dutch countryside.
"My mother and I slept together in a bed that was inside a closet. I remember lying in that bed trembling in fear at times." - Peter Metzelaar
Peter was born in Amsterdam in 1935. In 1942, when Peter was 7, the Nazis seized Peter's entire family except for Peter and his mother. Peter's mother contacted the Dutch Underground for help. The Underground found Klaas and Roefina Post who agreed to shelter Peter and his mother on their small farm in northern Holland, putting their own lives at risk. For two years they lived with the Posts until it became too dangerous and they found another hiding place with two women in The Hague. Peter, his mother, and his aunt were the only survivors of his family. Klaas and Roefina Post have been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.
After the war, Peter and his mother immigrated to the United States in 1949, arriving in New York. Peter was 13 and didn't speak any English, but was placed in the 8th grade. Peter had a long career as a radiology technologist. He and his wife raised two children in California and moved to Seattle in 1997. Peter continues to be an active member of the Holocaust Center for Humanity's Speakers Bureau.
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Transcripts for Video Clips — Pete Metzelaar
Full Testimony - Peter Metzelaar (1995, 1:01:37)
Biography - Peter Metzelaar
Biography Booklet - Peter Metzelaar (student handout)
The Dutch Underground found Klaas and Roefina Post who agreed to shelter Peter and his mother on their small farm in northern Holland