Anita Schorr, witness to Holocaust evils, dies at 85
WESTPORT — Anita Pollack Schorr, a Westport resident who survived the Holocaust as a child and for many years later recounted her story as a cautionary lesson for subsequent generations, died Thursday. She was 85.
"My objective is to explain that if you don't watch what happens on the playground, on the bus, on the internet or wherever the mean stuff is happening, it could lead to something like what I went through," Schorr, in a 2011 Westport News interview, explained why she continued to bear witness to the evils unleashed during the Nazis’ reign of terror.
“By telling my story, I'm immortalizing those who didn't make it,” she said at the time. Accompanied by photos from her youth, Schorr would speak to religious, school and civic groups about her incarceration — and survival — of Nazi concentration camps.
Schorr grew up in an upper-middle-class family in the Czech city of Brno. But her life changed dramatically with the 1939 German invasion of Czechoslovakia and the outbreak of World War II. A year later, she and every other Jewish child were expelled from Czech schools. Two years later, German forces sent Schorr and her family to Terezin, a Jewish ghetto town.
Then, in 1943, Schorr and her family were deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. She was later taken from the camp and assigned to a forced-labor detail in Hamburg, Germany. But as Germany began to crumble under Allied forces’ onslaught she was transferred to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp until it was liberated.
"Suddenly, the Germans were all gone. It was so exciting. We were free suddenly,” she recalled.
Schorr, a Westport resident since 1985, then devoted herself to sharing her experiences.
"We (Holocaust survivors) used to say, ‘Never forget,’ ” she said. “But I say, ‘Remembering is not enough. We need action. We have to start fighting for a better world.’ ”
First Selectman Jim Marpe, in a statement issued Friday, said, “Our community has lost a courageous woman.”
After being liberated from Nazi concentration camps, he noted, “She immigrated to Israel and was one of the first four women to serve in the Haganah, the precursor to the Israeli Defense Forces.
“Anita made it her mission to tell the story of what happened to her and to the six million other Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis. For the last 20 years that audience included Westport students. She also developed a program to help middle school teachers incorporate the Holocaust into their curriculums,” Marpe added.
The funeral service for Schorr is set for 11 a.m. Sunday at the Abraham L. Green And Son Funeral Home, 88 Beach Road in Fairfield.