North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

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January 3, 2013

Holocaust speaker to tell of his experience

KIMBERLY — A local teacher is continuing an ongoing effort to educate students and others about the Holocaust.

Lisa Byrd, an English teacher at Mortimer Jordan High School, is organizing an event this month in which Holocaust survivor Robert “Bob” May will speak about his experiences.

May, of Birmingham, will be speaking at the Mortimer Jordan High School auditorium Jan. 7 at 9:30 a.m. The community is invited; there is no charge to attend.

May’s story is different from many others in that he was never imprisoned in a concentration camp.

In 1936, Hitler had been in power for three years and anti-Semitism was making school intolerable for the 10-year-old May, according to a profile about May on the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center website.

His parents sent him to his aunt’s house in Frankfurt to attend a Jewish school. While there, the infamous Kristallnacht — “Night of Broken Glass” — occurred on Nov. 9-10, 1938. On this night, a wave of anti-Jewish violence took place throughout Germany and in other areas.

During Kristallnacht, Germans ransacked his aunt’s apartment, and May’s school and synagogue were burned.

A month later, May travelled to Brighton, England, to attend a Jewish boarding school. His Uncle Siegmund, who had previously escaped Germany to Holland, paid his way through school.

Just before the war started, May’s parents traveled to England with only two suitcases. May and his parents left England for Havana, Cuba, and then on to New Orleans.

In the United States, May continued in school. He became a medical doctor and served in the U.S. Air Force.

He and his wife Anita married in 1953. He practiced obstetrics and gynecology for almost 50 years.

The aunt and uncle who helped him in Germany died at Auschwitz.

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