Raise a toast to Sonja Maier Geismar, a Holocaust survivor who shared her story of courage in the face of unspeakable tragedy as the keynote speaker at the Yom Hashoah commemoration held at St. Francis College on April 11.
She explained how she and hundreds of other Jews fled Germany on the ill-fated voyage of the St. Louis.
She was just 4 years old at the time of the trip on which more than 900 Jewish passengers were denied entry to Cuba, and later rejected from landing in the United States and Canada. The ship was forced back to Europe where the passengers were split up across the continent. More than 250 died at the hands of the Nazis.
She and her family finally were able to immigrate to the United States. The transition was difficult for her parents, filled with struggles, but they succeeded in building good lives. She resided in the city with her family and became a high school librarian and currently is an adjunct librarian.
This annual event serves to keep alive the memories of those who perished and those who survived to tell of the atrocities.
St. Francis College [180 Remsen St. at Court Street in Brooklyn Heights, www.sfc.edu]