It is with great sadness that I inform you that Klaus Stern passed away yesterday evening. He was one of the founders of our Holocaust Center, a speaker in our Speakers Bureau, a long time Board member, a strong advocate for Holocaust education and for many of us, a dear friend. He will be missed.
We send peace to his family in their time of sorrow and to all who mourn.
Tributes can be made to the Klaus Stern Holocaust Education Fund by going to www.wsherc.org or by mail to 2031 Third Avenue, Seattle WA 98121. The fund will support speaker outreach throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Please call the Center if you have any questions (206) 774-2201.
Klaus and Paula Stern established their permanent home here in Seattle in 1946. At a time when people where discouraged from talking about the Holocaust, Klaus spoke out, telling his personal story to others. For over 40 years Klaus has informed and educated local, national and international students and communities.
A longtime member of the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center's Speakers Bureau and one of the Center's founders, Klaus served the Center's mission to inspire teaching and learning for humanity in the schools and communities of this region through study of the Holocaust. Klaus educated students and the community about his experiences during the Holocaust, encouraging generations of young people to speak out for what is right, to respect others, and about the tragic consequences of intolerance. He travelled throughout the Pacific Northwest to tell his story, and was hosted by the German government to share his experiences. He was a member of the Jewish Club of Washington, and of Emmanuel Congregation in Seattle.
Born in 1921 in Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland), Klaus grew up in Berlin. He and Paula were married in 1942 in the midst of Nazi deportations. Fearing for their future, the couple agreed that if they were separated, they would meet in Paula's hometown, Ahrnstadt, after the war. They were both deported to Auschwitz nine months after their wedding and were separated for 25 months, never knowing if the other was alive.
Klaus survived Auschwitz, Sachsenhausen, Flossenburg, Leonberg, Mühldorf, and the death marches. Liberated in May of 1945 by American troops, Klaus wrote a note to Paula and sent it with several soldiers heading in the direction of Paula's hometown. After three months in an Allied hospital Klaus regained his strength and traveled for three weeks through war-ravaged Europe to joyfully reunite with Paula in her home town of Ahrnstadt. They immigrated to the United States the next year and became the first Holocaust survivor family to settle in Seattle. Klaus worked for Langendorf Bakeries in Seattle for 36 years, while Paula raised their two children, Marion and Marvin. They were married for 71 years.
Always sources of strength to each other, both Klaus and Paula said that it was their love for each other and the hope of being together again that kept them going in horrible circumstances.
Survived by his beloved wife Paula, his two children, and four grandchildren, Klaus passed away due to complications from pneumonia.
View a brief biography and timeline of Klaus' life, and view three short video clips here.