By Ledger staff
WESTPORT – Anita Schorr, a Westport resident and a child survivor of the Holocaust who made Holocaust education her life’s mission, died on Thursday, May 5. She was 85.
A native of Czechoslovakia, Schorr was arrested with her family in 1939 when she was just eight years old. The family survived the Jewish ghetto and was transported to Terezin. The family was then deported to Auschwitz, where her parents and younger brother were murdered. Schorr served in a slave-labor unit in Hamburg before ending up in Bergen-Belsen.
After liberation, Schorr joined the Haganah and fought in Israel’s War of Independence. She married a fellow Czech and lived on a kibbutz until 1959, when the couple came to the U.S.
Trained as a commercial artist, Schorr didn’t start telling her story until about 13 years ago, after retiring from a long career. Since then, she recounted her Holocaust experience to audiences throughout the state – including serving as keynote speaker at the State Holocaust Commemoration at the State Capitol in 2012. She was honored by the Anti-Defamation League in 2013.
Speaking at churches and synagogues, schools and universities, Holocaust commemoration programs, Schorr sketched the arc of her family’s destruction in graphic detail, through the eyes of a child and adolescent. Her message, she told the Ledger in a 2012 interview, was “Step in. Be a Hero!”
“I tell people that we have to act now, today,” she told the Ledger “Especially younger listeners, that they have to be heroes. They are the only ones who can make the future better, stand up against bullies, and prevent atrocities like the Holocaust from happening again.”
“Anita Schorr’s passing is an unrecoverable loss for our Jewish community,” Steve Friedlander, CEO of Federation for Jewish Philanthropy of Upper Fairfield County, said. “Her Holocaust experience was always communicated in a way that imparted both necessary information as well as inspiration to help us face our ever-present new challenges in a world where antisemitism still plays a dominant role.”
Anita Schorr was predeceased by her second husband, Harold Schorr. She is survive by a son, Odie Ron, of Boulder, Colo.