Fanya Gottesfeld Heller
Years ago my sister and I traveled around Germany, Austria and Switzerland. She drove and I navigated, which means we got lost a few times. When we were in Munich we noticed the town of Dachau was not that far away. After some discussion we felt we needed to visit the concentration camp located in the city.
Dachau Concentration Camp was opened in 1933 and was the first camp located in Germany. This was not an easy visit, I only got through half of the museum before I became too overwhelmed to continue. We spent several hours there, walking the camp grounds, reading the various memorials and walking into the horrendous buildings containing the ovens and the showers. To this day I remember the feeling I had visiting this place in Germany. We shouldn’t walk away from history, and as difficult as it was to visit the Dachau camp I’m glad I did. I strongly believe that anyone who has the opportunity to visit one of these horrible places should, it’s an experience that will always be with you.
Tomorrow night WOSU TV will air a documentary based on the life experiences of Fanya Gottesfeld Heller. Fanya was never in a concentration camp. Her existence and survival during the war is a different kind of story.
Teenage Witness: The Fanya Gottsfeld Heller Story airs 9pm, Tuesday, April 26 on WOSU TV.
In 1941, the Nazis asserted their power by overrunning tiny villages throughout Eastern Europe. In the middle of the horror and chaos stood 15-year-old Fanya Gottesfeld (Heller). Only through the kindness of a Polish peasant did Fanya survive – hidden beneath a chicken coop with her parents and brother for two-and-a-half years. What I really like about this lady is her ability to reach out and share her story with inner-city teens who have some of the same kinds of feelings Gottesfeld Heller had when she was trying to survive. The teens problems may seem a bit misplaced when compared to trying to survive the Nazi madness, but it’s all relative to the individuals involved and Gottesfeld Heller sees that.
I do hope you’ll be able to catch this wonderful documentary. It’s a story that needed to be told and was by, a very fascinating and strong woman.