The Shmooze

A Deaf Holocaust Survivor’s Harrowing Tale

By Penina Kessler

Leave your headphones at home.

Charlotte Friedman, a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor, tells her story for the first time in a two part video series produced by Jewish.TV, the multimedia branch of Chabad.org. The twist? Friedman, who is deaf, conducted the interview entirely in American Sign Language.

The videos are part of a joint effort between Jewish Deaf Multimedia and Rabbi Joshua Soudakoff to reach out to the Jewish deaf community.

Friedman’s tale of escape from a Dutch internment camp is especially astonishing given that many deaf people were tortured and killed by the Nazis.

Friedman recounts her childhood in Germany, including how her parents managed to provide her with an education despite her impairment and the enactment of the Nuremberg laws. She also discusses how she crossed paths with another persecuted Jewish girl hiding out in Amsterdam — Anne Frank. Her parents befriended Anne Frank’s parents, but the bonds were broken when the Friedmans left for America.

Though she chatters away on many other subjects, when asked about her remarkable endurance, Friedman simply states: “I was very lucky.”

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