Friday Jan 26, 2018

"History and Tragedy - the Holocaust"

Dee Simon

Executive Director Holocaust Center for Humanity

Introduced by: Adam Mihlstin

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Saturday, January 27 is Holocaust Remembrance Day. Our speaker today, Dee Simon, will discuss the Holocaust and genocide throughout history – to educate, inspire, take action – to make sure we do not forget. While the Center’s main focus is on the Holocaust, the Center also addresses genocide throughout history (Somalia, Rwandan and Bosnia).  Joining Dee will be Holocaust survivor Ingrid Kanis Steppic who will tell her family’s story and what they sadly had to experience.

The Holocaust Center, located in Seattle,  provides the following resources to educators, students, academics, authors, and public and private organizations:

  • Educational programs and curricula
  • Community programs
  • Artifacts
  • Teacher Training
  • Teaching Trunks
  • Classroom sets of books
  • Speakers Bureau of survivors, witnesses, liberators, second generation, and WWII veterans
  • Online resources including curricula and teaching activities
  • Exhibits
  • Library collection of books, videos/dvds, video testimonies
  • Writing, art and film contest
  • Support and consultation for educators

About the Speaker

Dee Simon is the Baral Family Executive Director of the Holocaust Center for Humanity. She began as a volunteer, became President of the Board for four terms and in 2006 became the Executive Director. She has worked with survivors and their families for over 26 years, building an education center that serves over 40,000 students annually. She is on the Board of Directors of the International Association of Holocaust Organizations and a frequent presenter at conferences, corporate diversity programs, and universities.

Accompanying Dee is Ingrid Kanis Steppic. Ingrid was born in Holland in 1943. Her father, mother and older sisters hid 40 Jews in Holland during the Holocaust. She is now telling her story of this family of rescuers.
Ingrid’s family moved to Amersfoort only one day before the Germans invaded Holland on May 10th, 1940. Her father, Jan, was to be the manager of the town post office. His position allowed him to see returned mail and death notices. He realized that the Nazis were killing Jews long before many others found out, and he encouraged many Jews to go into hiding rather than register.
Jan helped Jews hide in Amersfoort or nearby Oldebroek, where he had grown up. The ‘hiders’ would first come to Ingrid’s house, and then her father would find a place for them. Her mother, Nel, was unfailingly vigilant to keep the Germans from discovering them. Her older siblings helped. Jan and Nel kept in touch with the people they had hidden
Jan was also involved in the Dutch Underground. On one occasion, a raid had been planned on a distribution center to acquire the stamps for ration cards. Jan was forced to flee the scene and go underground. He was arrested and sent to Dachau in 1944.
Shortly after, Ingrid’s older sister Ali, was found with incriminating receipts from striking railroad workers, and was also arrested. Ali spent the rest of the war in a women’s prison, forced to mend clothing for German soldiers.
Without the pay from Jan’s job, or Ali’s help at home, Nel was hard-pressed to make ends meet during the infamous “Hunger Winter” of 1944-45, especially with a young child. The Kanis family continued to live in Amersfoort after the war was over. Ingrid married an American soldier and moved to the United States. In 1971, Ingrid’s parents were honored by Yad Vashem in Israel as "Righteous Among the Nations."
Between 20,000 and 30,000 Jews were hidden in Holland during the war. This included the Frank family. Of this number, about 2/3 survived.
Ingrid is a member of the Holocaust Center for Humanity’s Speakers Bureau, and presents her family’s story to local students and community groups.