Naperville students hear Holocaust survivor's message

 
 
Updated 2/18/2019 4:55 PM
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  • Neuqua Valley High School students Michael Baden, Sofia Khan and James Chelliah ask Holocaust survivor Magda Brown questions Friday as Brown shared her story of surviving the Auschwitz concentration camp as a teenager.

      Neuqua Valley High School students Michael Baden, Sofia Khan and James Chelliah ask Holocaust survivor Magda Brown questions Friday as Brown shared her story of surviving the Auschwitz concentration camp as a teenager. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Holocaust survivor Magda Brown, 91, of Skokie speaks to students Friday at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, sharing her story of surviving the Auschwitz concentration camp.

      Holocaust survivor Magda Brown, 91, of Skokie speaks to students Friday at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, sharing her story of surviving the Auschwitz concentration camp. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Holocaust survivor and 91-year-old Skokie resident Magda Brown.

      Holocaust survivor and 91-year-old Skokie resident Magda Brown. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Abby Pikturna, a junior at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, gets her photo taken with Holocaust survivor Magda Brown after Brown's speech at the school.

      Abby Pikturna, a junior at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, gets her photo taken with Holocaust survivor Magda Brown after Brown's speech at the school. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Students line up Friday to meet with 91-year-old Holocaust survivor Magda Brown of Skokie after she shared her story at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville.

      Students line up Friday to meet with 91-year-old Holocaust survivor Magda Brown of Skokie after she shared her story at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

Holocaust survivor Magda Brown is 91 now, but she was the age of many of her recent audience members when she was taken to the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II, where most of her family died.

Brown, of Skokie, told her story of survival Friday at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville during an interactive assembly with students, who got to ask her questions.

Brown is a member of the speakers bureau of the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, also in Skokie, so her speech Friday was part of her ongoing work to inform younger generations about the realities Jewish people endured during the Holocaust. She also details her journey on her website, https://magdabrown.com/.

Born in Hungary, Brown was taken with her family to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland in June 1944, leaving home on her 17th birthday inside a crowded railroad car. She was separated from her parents and relatives, and they were sent to a gas chamber.

Brown herself was imprisoned for two months in Auschwitz before being sent to a work camp in Allendorf, Germany. There, she was forced to work with other women to make bombs and rockets with liquid chemicals.

She escaped in March 1945, when she was sent on a march to the Buchenwald concentration camp, and then was liberated by American forces. Later she immigrated to the U.S., joining aunts and uncles living in Chicago in September 1946, getting married, raising two children and working for four decades in a physician's office as a medical assistant.

After a shooting last October that killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue, Brown's resolve to tell others of her Holocaust experiences was strengthened, according to her website.

"Now the world needs to hear the message even more," she wrote.

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