April 9 (UPI) — Gerda Weissmann Klein, who became an author and activist after surviving three different Nazi labor camps and a death march as a teenager during the Holocaust, has died. She was 97.
Her death was first revealed by documentary filmmaker Kary Antholis who had made the Oscar-winning film “One Survivor Remembers” with Weissmann Klein based on her autobiography “All But My Life.” Antholis said Weissmann Klein had died on April 3 but did not reveal her cause of death.
“It’s with a heavy heart that I share that Gerda Weissmann Klein, the subject of my 1995 documentary ‘One Survivor Remembers,’ passed away last night,” Antholis said. “May her memory be everlasting.”
The film, which has been made public by Antholis, has been added to the National Film Registry and used by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a hate-group watchdog, as part of its Teaching Tolerance program.
Weissmann Klein has received several accolades for her writing and activism since emigrating to the United States after she was liberated by U.S. troops, including her future husband Lt. Kurt Klein, in May 1945. Klein died in 2002.
Former President Bill Clinton appointed Weissmann Klein to serve on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Council in 1997 and she was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by former President Barack Obama in 2010.
“After surviving Nazi labor camps and a death march, Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissmann Klein spent her life educating others about the need for tolerance and understanding,” the U.S. Holocaust Museum said in a statement.
Obama paid tribute to Weissmann Klein after her death and called her “an inspiration to so many around the world.”
“As a Holocaust survivor, she shared her story to remind us of the power of hope and the extent of our strength,” Obama said. “Michelle and I send our love to her family.”