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Holocaust Survivor Speaks to Eighth-graders

Holocaust survivor Yvonne Aronson gave a powerful talk to eighth-graders in early March, sharing her story of survival with students. Aronson, grandmother of eighth-grader Sam Froehle and his fifth-grade brother Colin, began her story with her great-grandparents, who immigrated to New York from Vienna, Austria. The family eventually returned to Europe, living in Vienna and Brussels, Belgium. “That is how my family happened to be in Europe when Hitler struck in 1938,” Aronson said. Aronson’s father was sent to a concentration camp after being picked up by Nazis in May 1940 and died in Auschwitz. She and her mother went into hiding in a convent. They then moved to a cellar in the home of a pharmacist and finally Aronson hid in the home of a widow and her adult son. Aronson’s mother would visit her once a week, once walking 15 miles to see her daughter. “In the three plus years I was in hiding with the widow, my mother never missed a Sunday,” she said. The speaker said she grew up “in an adult world,” rarely leaving the widow’s home to help in the garden and never playing with children. She also taught herself to read. After the war ended, Aronson and her mother moved to the United States. Aronson learned English and attended school. She graduated from the University of Illinois in June 1957. Today, Aronson has three children, five grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. She said she has been “very, very fortunate in my life.” “I will be 80 in three weeks,” Aronson said. “I am very lucky to be here for many reasons.”