By Shelly Gattlieb
Holocaust Survivor Frank Grunwald will share his story at 3 p.m. April 16 at Pilgrim Lutheran Church, 3650 W. 106th St. in Carmel. The event is free and open to the public and is recommended for those in middle school or older.
The presentation is expected to last approximately one hour and will include accompaniments by a professional string quartet and readings of poems written by children during their time in concentration camps. The event will close with Grunwald playing some of his own music on the accordion.
Grunwald was born in 1932 in Czechoslovakia. When his community was invaded by German troops, his family was taken to concentration camps, and Grunwald spent time in three camps, including Auschwitz. Those who attend will hear a firsthand account of his experience in the camps, journey to freedom and eventual relocation to the U.S.
Jody Konow is a member of Pilgrim Lutheran Church and is organizing the event. As a former middle school history teacher, she was especially touched by Grunwald’s story and wanted to share his message with as many people as possible.
“People need to remember that these things happened and that it wasn’t that long ago that it happened,” Konow said. “Sometimes I just don’t think the kids understand it like the kids I grew up with understood that.”
Konow describes Grunwald as a sweet man who depicts no anger in his recollections but rather places emphasis on how he was able to stay determined and persist through struggles with perseverance, faith and music.
Grunwald has visited the church multiple times. Previously, he played music from the World War II era on his accordion and talked about the meaning of each piece, relating the songs to his own personal story. He has spoken at many schools and universities as well.