Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust board member Robert Geminder, a Holocaust survivor who frequently spoke to students at the museum, passed away on Jan. 27.
Geminder was born in 1935 in Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland), to parents Mano and Bertl Geminder. In 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union and bombed Stanislawow, where the Geminders lived.
During the bombing, Geminder’s father suffered a fatal heart attack. The family was later forced into a Jewish cemetery where German soldiers massacred 12,000 Jews. They survived by crouching in the back of the cemetery. Within a year, when they were living in the Stanislawow Ghetto, Bertl met Emil Brotfeld, whom she would later marry.
Bertl, who worked outside the ghetto, smuggled her children out. Using falsified papers, the family hid with different families until 1944, when they went to Warsaw. In the aftermath of the Warsaw Uprising, the family was among the thousands of civilians sent to Auschwitz.
The train car in which they were being transported had an open roof. When the train stopped outside of Auschwitz, Geminder’s stepfather lifted him up and he was able to open a door, and Geminders escaped. They were liberated in a small village a few months later.
The Geminders immigrated to the United States in 1947. Robert Geminder served in the U.S. Army and worked as an engineer. He married Judy Strauss, had three children, and was widowed in 2011.
For the last several years, Geminder was dedicated to sharing his family’s experiences during the Holocaust with students and aothers around the world. He is survived by his children Ellen, Mindy and Shia, and his partner Gabriella Karin, a docent and Holocaust survivor whom he met at the museum.
Services were held on Jan. 30 at Mt. Sinai Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills.
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