Sheltered From Nazis, Exposed to Rain
Local NewsHolocaust Survivor

Sheltered From Nazis, Exposed to Rain

Ben Klein tells his Holocaust survival story at the 2018 Daffodil Dash.

Michael Jacobs

Atlanta Jewish Times Editor Michael Jacobs is on his second stint leading the AJT's editorial operations. He previously served as managing editor from 2005 to 2008.

Ben Klein, a Holocaust survivor from the Netherlands, tells his story as part of the closing ceremony of the annual Daffodil Dash on Sunday, March 25.
Ben Klein, a Holocaust survivor from the Netherlands, tells his story as part of the closing ceremony of the annual Daffodil Dash on Sunday, March 25.

Holocaust survivor Ben Klein reminded participants in the seventh Daffodil Dash of a different kind of trauma suffered during and after the Holocaust: that of young children who were saved by being hidden with Christian families but in the process forget who they were.

Klein was the featured speaker during the closing ceremony of the race, held on a cold, rainy Sunday morning, March 25, at Liane Levetan Park at Brook Run.

More than 420 people signed up for the dash. About 200 people actually ran the 5K, while others walked or ran a 1-mile course or cheered on friends and family.

Am Yisrael Chai President Andrea Videlefsky recognizes Marist School history teacher Brendan Murphy, who not only organized the top fundraising team for the Daffodil Dash, but also finished third for his age group in the 5K.

The Am Yisrael Chai event raises awareness and money for Holocaust education and supports Kids for Kids, Raising South Sudan and Agahozo Shalom, organizations helping children and families in remote villages in Darfur, South Sudan and Rwanda. The dash also supports the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta‘s Holocaust Survivor Support Fund and boosts the Daffodil Project, which is working to plant 1.5 million daffodils around the world in memory of the 1.5 million Jewish children killed in the Holocaust.

Based on the official results, Ghila Sanders, Mark Wulkan and Lily Stewart finish the 5K in the identical time of 31:23.

“We are very grateful to everyone who came out despite the cold rainy weather to support the Daffodil Dash, and we look forward to seeing everyone at the race again next spring,” Am Yisrael Chai President Andrea Videlefsky said.

Jorge Affonso, 72, crosses the 5K finish line first for the 70-and-older age group.

The Marist School, always a big supporter the run, was the top team with more than 80 registered participants and nearly $3,500 raised.

The interfaith aspect of having a Catholic school raise the most money fit with Klein’s story of being sheltered from the Nazis by a Christian family.

Born in Holland in 1940, Klein was placed with the family when he was 2½ in March 1943, by which time his father had already been killed by the Nazis.

“I became part of that family” as the seventh child, Klein said. “It was a wonderful family.”

So it was tough for him when a woman he didn’t recognize showed up in mid-1945 after the war ended and said, “Hello, I’m your mother.”

On his fifth birthday in July 1945, he was forced to go back to his mother and two sisters so they could suffer together the next two years.

“Things in Holland were unbelievably difficult. Everything was on rations. There were shortages of everything,” Klein said.

But the family pulled together and immigrated to the United States in 1952.

Melissa and Penina Krakow cross the line together.

Klein is active in the Daffodil Project, whose daffodil plantings and related informational signs are “wonderful reminders that it really happened,” he said.

Videlefsky thanked Klein for “being here in this crazy weather, doing the 1-mile walk.”

She said the bad weather, which forced volunteers to set up in pouring rain, did not dampen the spirit, with more than 40 teams involved, music by Party Express and kosher food from Goldbergs.

Matthew Borenstein won the 5K in a time of 21:12, and Aubrey Bachtel was the female winner in 24:16. The masters winners were Charles Gerrick and Danielle Bodden.

Their race run, Daffodil Dash participants can have some fun at Brook Run Park.

The park was in full bloom for the race. Videlefsky said volunteers planted 20,000 of the flowers in the park in October, November and January with the help of Levetan and support of the city of Dunwoody, and they were out at their peak March 25.

read more: