Holocaust Survivor to Present Keynote Address at Holocaust Remembrance Program


2014_Honors ProgramCAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., April 13, 2011 – Child survivor of the Holocaust Jerry Koenig will speak at a Holocaust Remembrance Program April 27 at Southeast Missouri State University.

Koenig will make a keynote Common Hour presentation at noon on April 27 in the University Center Ballroom. He will talk about his experiences during the war as a child survivor hidden by a Polish Catholic family in their farmhouse.

The event is free and open to all Southeast students, faculty and staff, and the public. The Holocaust Remembrance Program is sponsored by the Political Philosophy Club–a Southeast student organization–and the Department of Political Science, Philosophy and Religion.

Koenig was born in a suburb of Warsaw, Poland, in 1930. He was nine years old when his family was forcibly relocated into a Jewish ghetto. Facing starvation and disease, Koenig’s family escaped, fleeing to a small town east to Warsaw. Two years later, facing deportation to the death camp of Treblinka, the family went into hiding on a Polish Catholic family’s farm. In 1944, the family was safely liberated by the Russian Army and allowed to return home.

In the summer of 1946, the family escaped Poland as anti-Jewish riots in Poland pushed many Jewish Poles to emigrate. Koenig’s family escaped through Czechoslovakia and Austria, and eventually was admitted in a Displaced Persons camp in American-occupied Germany. They remained there until 1951, when Koenig completed his engineering degree in Munich.

That same year, the family immigrated to Davenport, Iowa. Shortly after arriving, Koenig was drafted into the Army and served for two years. By 1954, the family had moved to St. Louis, Mo., and Koenig was hired as an engineer by Laclede Gas Company. He remained employed there for 35 years, until his retirement in 1989.

Koenig teaches the history and lessons of the Holocaust through the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center, where he still regularly volunteers.

Following this presentation at 3:15 p.m., Koenig will join Dr. Mitchel Gerber, Southeast professor of political science, for an informal discussion in the Honors House, 603 N. Henderson, on the Southeast campus.

“The critical point of Holocaust Remembrance Week is that it is not just another horrific historic event of the forgotten past. Rather, it teaches us valuable ethical lessons about humanity and the human condition,” Gerber said. “The horrors of genocide are unfortunately with us today, and by studying and reflecting upon the Holocaust we should be able to learn how to transcend such atrocities.”

The discussion is open to interested students. For more information, contact Dr. Mitchel Gerber at (573) 651-2694.