Elon University to host local Holocaust survivors on Feb. 13

Agnes and Robert Heller will share their "Bittersweet Memories of Survival" in McKinnon Hall in this rare opportunity to hear a Holocaust survivor

Local Holocaust survivors Agnes and Robert Heller will share their personal stories of survival in German-occupied Hungary during World War II with the Elon University community on Thursday, Feb. 13 at 5:30 p.m.

The Hellers were both born in Budapest, Hungary. During the war, Agnes Heller hid at the home of the Halmi family. Robert Heller also survived in hiding before moving to a house protected by the Swedish embassy, where he was helped by Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat remembered for saving tens of thousands of Jewish people in Nazi-occupied Hungary.

Both Hellers emerged from the Holocaust with a strong will to survive and to build a new and successful life in the United States. While times were bitter, the end is sweet.

Agnes and Robert Heller will share their powerful stories at a special event, Bittersweet Memories of Survival, in McKinnon Hall in the Moseley Center.

The opportunities to hear and meet a Holocaust survivor are diminishing. For many community members, this may be the only chance they have.

Rachel Dzik ‘21 will provide a historical introduction, Chaplain Jan Therien will introduce the Hellers, and the talk will be followed by a Q & A session moderated by Director of Jewish Life Betsy Polk.

The event is co-sponsored by Elon Hillel, Jewish Studies, the Department of Religious Studies, the Department of History and Geography, the Dean of Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Center for the Study of Religion, Culture, and Society, the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life, and Chabad Elon.

This special event recognizes International Holocaust Remembrance Day, an international memorial day on Jan. 27, that marks the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration and death camp.  This year is the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorates the genocide that resulted in the death of an estimated 6 million Jewish people, 5 million Slavs, 3 million ethnic Poles, 200,000 Romani people, 250,000 mentally and physically disabled people, and 9,000 homosexuals by the Nazi regime and its collaborators.

Event Details and location:

Bittersweet Memories of Survival

McKinnon Hall, Moseley Center, Elon University

Feb. 13, 2020 at 5:30 p.m.


Hillary Zaken, Assistant Director of Jewish Life for Development & Strategic Communication

Office phone: 336.278.7347

Mobile phone: 336.706.1246

Email: hzaken@elon.edu

Andrea Sinn, O’Briant Developing Professor and Assistant Professor of History, Director of Jewish Studies

Office Phone: 336.278.6462

Email: asinn@elon.edu