Karen Treiger shares the survival story of her mother- and father-in-law, Esther and Sam Goldberg. Three years ago, Karen began a project to delve deeply into the lives of Sam and Esther. Karen knew that they had amazing stories of survival, but she wanted to fully understand their struggles and experiences.
Esther and Sam both grew up in Poland prior to the outbreak of World War II. Sam was drafted into the Soviet Army and imprisoned in a German POW Camp. He escaped, but was eventually deported to the Nazi death camp Treblinka. In 1943, Sam escaped from Treblinka too, and found safety in a nearby forest, where he met Esther. Esther had already established a hiding place there after fleeing Stozeck, Poland.
Until liberation of that part of Poland in 1944, Esther and Sam survived in hiding with the help of the non-Jewish Stys families. After the birth of their first child and several years in displaced persons camps, the Goldbergs came to the United States in 1949.
In 2016, Karen and her family traveled to Poland to meet the children of the Stys families, and thank them for their courage in saving the Goldbergs’ lives. This incredible connection has continued to inspire Karen to tell her family’s story, and now to share it with students and other groups as a Legacy Speaker for the Holocaust Center’s Speakers Bureau.
Karen has completed a book about the Goldbergs’ remarkable story of survival, My Soul is Filled with Joy: A Holocaust Story. She is a lawyer and has four adult children with her husband – Sam and Esther’s son – and resides in Seattle.
Daughter of Dutch survivor of Auschwitz, Ine-Marie van Dam shares her mother's story.
Ada van Esso was born in Meppel, Holland to a Jewish family. When she was a young girl, the family moved to Amsterdam because they wanted to be in an area with a larger Jewish population, and to be farther from the German border.
After World War II began, Ada’s father planned for the family to escape Holland. He bribed officials who were to assist them in their escape, but the family was betrayed. They were sent to a prison in Berlin, and then deported to Auschwitz in 1943. While there, Ada was assigned to a building that housed a laundry for the Nazis. She worked with a group of women who lived in the building – not housed in Auschwitz barracks. Ada left Auschwitz in 1945 on a death march. She was liberated at Ravensbrück Concentration Camp and taken to Sweden to recover.
After the war, Ada returned to Holland and married Hans van Dam. Ine-Marie van Dam was born in Holland several years after, and grew up on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao. Ine and her family moved to the Pacific Northwest at age 9. Fascinated by language and cultural diversity, Ine says she dreamed of living, studying, and working abroad.
Ine is fluent in a number of languages. She works as a conference interpreter, and has taught translation and interpretation at various colleges. In 2019, Ine bgean presenting the story of her mother’s Holocaust survival as a Legacy Speaker with the Holocaust Center for Humanity, utilizing video testimony, photos, maps, and other primary source documents.
Ada lives in Seattle in an assisted living facility. Ine visits her often from her home in Centralia, WA, and still speaks to her mother in Dutch.
Photo: Ine-Marie van Dam with her mother Ada.
Barbara is the daughter of Holocaust survivor Steve Adler. She assisted her father in telling his story, and after he passed away in 2019, Barbara decided to continue his legacy.
Steve was born in Berlin, Germany in 1930, the younger son in a middle-class, Jewish family. In 1937, Steve’s mother, fearing for his safety due to anti-Jewish laws, enrolled Steve in a private Jewish school. The following year, the SS and Gestapo arrested more than 30,000 Jewish males during Kristallnacht. One of them was Steve’s own father Alfred. On November 10th, 1938, he was taken to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he was held prisoner for six weeks before his release on December 23.
Conditions for Jews continued to deteriorate. In January 1939, the Nazi government required all Jews to carry identity cards revealing their heritage, and danger became much more immediate for the Adlers. That March, Steve’s parents sent him alone to Hamburg to join a Kindertransport (children’s transport) going to England by ship. Kindertransports were organized with British government sanction, giving refuge to approximately 10,000 Jewish children from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia – not their parents. Steve arrived in London knowing only one sentence in English. During the war’s intense bombings, Steve was evacuated to a small English town with his classmates.
Unlike most other Kindertransport children, Steve was reunited with both his parents. In spring of 1940, Steve’s brother Ralph and their mother Ilse met Steve in London. His father joined them in the fall, and they then traveled by ship for twelve days across the Atlantic, settling with relatives in Chicago.
After many years in Illinois and Connecticut, in 1999 Steve and his wife Judy, moved to Seattle to be near Barbara and her two children. Steve was an active and beloved member of Holocaust Center for Humanity Speakers Bureau for two decades.
Barbara is an attorney, a mother, and recently started a non-profit organization to help folks in need with elder law. She is also the co-author, with Steve, of a 2017 book about families and aging, “When I Need Your Help I’ll Let You Know.” Barbara is very proud to share her father’s story as a Legacy Speaker in the Center’s Speakers Bureau.
Learn more about Barbara's father Steve Adler from his Survivor Encyclopedia page.
Clarice Wilsey, daughter of Army physician Captain David Wilsey, M.D. who was one of 27 doctors who entered Dachau concentration camp at liberation, shares her father's story.
Dr. Wilsey was born in Wisconsin in 1914. After receiving his medical degree, he joined the military during World War II to serve as an Army physician. After serving in France and Germany, Dr. Wilsey arrived at Dachau in late April 1945. Prisoners were quarantined inside Dachau to wait for the allied commanders to see the atrocities, and to prevent the spread of deadly disease. The American physicians and medical staff risked their lives to bring healing to the 30,000 Dachau survivors.
Dr. Wilsey’s family knew very little about his wartime experience. In 2009, when his children were cleaning out the family home, they found for the first time a box of letters Dr. Wilsey had written to his wife Emily while serving in the military, including the Battle of the Bulge and Dachau. The letters had survived several moves and even a house fire. Dr. Wilsey asked his wife in several letters “to tell thousands so that millions will know what Dachau is and never forget the name of Dachau.” His daughter, Clarice, was deeply affected by the discovery of the letters. She believes that her calling is to speak the words he was unable to voice after the war.
Clarice Wilsey, M.A., was a university faculty member and administrator for 45 years. She is now retired to spend more time reminding audiences to “never forget,” and is a member of the Holocaust Center for Humanity Speakers Bureau. In early 2020 Clarice and co-author Bob Welch published a memoir, Letters from Dachau: A Father's Witness of War, a Daughter's Dream of Peace. Find and order the book from Barnes and Noble or Amazon.
The collection of Dr. Wilsey’s 280+ letters and other materials are preserved at the Holocaust Center, and will be used in future exhibitions and for educational purposes.