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Michael Berenbaum is an American scholar, professor, rabbi, writer, and filmmaker, who specializes in the study of the memorialization of the Holocaust. He is perhaps best known for his work as Deputy Director of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust (1979–1980), Project Director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM from 1988 to 1993), and Director of the USHMM’s Holocaust Research Institute (from 1993 to 1997); as such, Rabbi Berenbaum played a major role in the creation of the USHMM and the content of its permanent exhibition. From 1997 to 1999, Michael served as President and CEO of the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, and subsequently (and currently) as Director of the Sigi Ziering Institute – exploring the Ethical and Religious Implications of the Holocaust – located at the American Jewish University, in Los Angeles.
Rabbi Berenbaum is the author and editor of eighteen books, including After Tragedy and Triumph, a study of the state of American Jewry in the early 1990s, as well as The World Must Know, Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, and others. He is the Executive Editor of the New Encyclopedia Judaica (2nd Edition) – it won the Dartmouth Medal of the American Library Association for the outstanding reference work of 2006.
Michael Berenbaum co-produced the documentary, One Survivor Remembers: The Gerda Weissmann Klein Story, which won an Oscar®, an Emmy® and the Cable Ace Award in 1995; was the chief historical consultant for Steven Spielberg’s production of, The Last Days, which also won an Academy Award in 1998; and, historical consultant for the History Channel’s, The Holocaust: The Untold Story, which won the CINE Golden Eagle Award and a Silver Medal at the U.S. International Film and Video Festival. He also wrote and executive produced the documentary, Desperate Hours, about the unique and rarely acknowledged role Turkey played in rescuing Jews from Nazi Germany’s final solution; executive producer of Swimming in Auschwitz; and, historical consultant on the film About Face: The Story of The Jewish Refugee Soldiers of WWII.
Mr. Nowakowski is a Director, and the Chief of Arts and Artifacts & Curatorial Affairs for the U. S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. He was born in Poland and came to the United States in 1981. He holds a Master of Science (M. S.) from the Technical University in Krakow, and speaks three languages: Polish, Russian and English.
As an author he has written and edited numerous articles for professional and academic journals, with a primary focus on the upholding of Polish traditions in America, and on the Holocaust.>/p>
Mr. Nowakowski is former curator of the Polish Museum of America, and is a member of the American Association of Museums, the Polish American Historical Association, and the Polish American Congress.
Anthony Zerbe is an American stage, film and Emmy-winning television actor. His many notable film roles include a post-apocalyptic cult leader in The Omega Man, a corrupt gambler playing opposite Robert Mitchum and Charlotte Rampling in Farewell, My Lovely, a prisoner opposite Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke, the leper colony chieftain in Papillon starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman, and as villain Milton Krest in the James Bond film Licence to Kill. More recently he has had a recurring role in the latest The Matrix film franchise, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions.
Mr. Zerbe was born in Long Beach, California, and attended Pomona College in Claremont, California, graduating in 1958. He served in the United States Air Force from 1959 to 1961, and after his discharge moved to New York City to study acting with acclaimed teacher Stella Adler. A talented character actor, he has played numerous guest roles in many iconic TV series including Naked City, The Virginian, The Big Valley, Route 66, The Wild Wild West, Twelve O’Clock High, Bonanza, Mission: Impossible, Gunsmoke, Hawaii Five-O, Mannix, It Takes a Thief, Ironside, Cannon, Columbo, The Rookies, The Streets of San Francisco, The Rockford Files, The Equalizer, Kung Fu, Little House on the Prairie, Dynasty, Highway to Heaven, Murder, She Wrote and Frasier. He had a lead role in The Young Riders and co-starred with David Janssen on Harry O, a role for which Mr. Zerbe won the Emmy® Award for Outstanding Continuing Performance By a Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.
Mr. Zerbe is the former artistic director of Reflections, A New Plays Festival at the Geva Theatre in Rochester, New York, and continues to perform in the drama project, Prelude to Lime Creek, with poet and lyricist Joe Henry. Currently, he teaches an acting master class at various colleges across the country.
Charley Ansbach is the President of Ansbach & Associates. With his counsel, worthy organizations have raised millions of dollars, strengthened their management, created new earned income and increased their capacity to carry out their mission.
Mr. Ansbach’s strength is “thinking outside the box” using traditional and contemporary tools to address funding and management challenges. He is an active speaker and author on current trends in the nonprofit/NGO community. In addition to nonprofit campaigns, Mr. Ansbach guided the fundraising for major political initiatives on a state and national basis.
Mr. Ansbach works with a variety of causes, ranging from the environment, healthcare, education, services for the disabled, advanced research, the arts, and more. He serves on a variety of boards, including Roots of Peace and the Global Center for Social Enterprise Development at the University of Pacific, is a founding member of Social Venture Partners, Sacramento, and a member of the Board of Advisors of Innovative Education Management, a statewide nonprofit charter school management organization. In addition, he was voted Outstanding Fundraiser of the Year by the Capitol Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in 1996, as well as Outstanding Philanthropist by the Yosemite Chapter in 2007.
Mr. Ansbach is a graduate of liberal arts at Edinboro University, was a Graduate Fellow in theater design at Indiana University and was a filmmaker-in-residence for the state of Indiana.
Kurt was the elder son of Siegmund and Berta Schwarz. He was seventeen years old in 1943, when he was arrested and transported to Auschwitz along with his younger brother and their mother.
Upon their arrival at Auschwitz, he and his brother were separated from their mother, and immediately selected to work in Auschwitz III, a sub-camp established by the SS at the behest of the I.G. Farben chemical company to produce synthetic rubber and liquid fuels using slave-labor. The camp was also known as Monowitz-Buna. Berta was ‘assigned’ to the main Auschwitz camp.
By July of 1944 the slave-labor population in the camp was over 11,000, most of whom were Jews. Despite the appalling number of deaths from starvation, execution or other forms of murder, the demand for labor was growing and more prisoners were brought in. The death-rate continued to escalate, because the factory management insisted on removing sick and exhausted prisoners from Monowitz. Those incapable of continuing to work were systematically exterminated. However, Kurt and his brother managed to survive.
In January 1945, the majority of the prisoners at Auschwitz III, were hurriedly removed from the camp by the Nazis due to the threat of the advancing Soviet Red Army. They were sent on a death march to Gliwice, and then carried by open, flat-car trains in the biting winter cold to the Buchenwald and Mauthausen camps. This is where Kurt and his brother were ultimately liberated three months later by the U.S. Army.
After their recovery from their ordeal, Kurt and his brother began their search for family members who might also have survived transport, or so-called ‘resettlement’ to concentration camps. They found only one – their mother, Berta. She had been transferred to Bergen-Belsen and had been liberated there by the British. All others, including their father Siegmund, who had so dutifully buried the box of valuables in the basement of their home, had been murdered at Auschwitz and at other camps.
After the war, Kurt met his wife, Annemie, in a small resort town located close to what was then the border between East and West Germany. They had three children. Kurt worked for his father-in-law who owned a tour company, which took visitors to the Harz Mountains, and to that regions’ points of interest. He later opened, what is today, a five-star restaurant in the same town.
After sixty-eight years of marriage to Annemie, Kurt recently became a widower, but still lives in the same town in which the two of them first met and married. He is healthy, clear-thinking, but lonely after the loss of his beloved Annemie. His mother Berta died at the age of ninety-nine, but his brother survives. Kurt and Christa are cousins.