Leaving a Legacy

Living a long and eventful life, Ann Klein, originally from Eger, Hungary, experienced everything from the turmoil of World War II and Auschwitz, to the renewal of life here in the United States. Ann married her childhood sweetheart, Sandor Klein, and together they had four children, and celebrated 65 years of marriage prior to her passing in 2012.

Dedicated to preserving history, Ann Klein’s family set up an educational fund through the Community Foundation of Louisville, known as the Ann Klein Memorial Fund for Holocaust Education. For many years, Ann kept quiet about her Holocaust experience. It wasn’t until her personal friend, Mary Kay Tachau, a history professor at the University of Louisville, convinced her to share her story that she started to open up. After Ann’s initial experience of sharing through taped interviews, she found the courage and strength to talk about her experiences publicly. She began regularly visiting classrooms to educate young people about the Holocaust and to teach tolerance and love.

Through these school visits, Ann worked closely with St. Francis of Assisi teacher, Fred Whittaker, and his eighth-grade students. In 2008, these students were able to succeed in getting the Kentucky State legislature to pass the Ernie Marx Resolution, named after a Louisville Holocaust survivor and educator who died in 2007, which encouraged and supported Holocaust education across the Commonwealth.

With the continued hard work of Whittaker and his students, House Bill 128, The Ann Klein and Fred Gross Holocaust Education Act, was passed at the Kentucky State Senate on March 21, 2018 by a unanimous vote. The bill now requires every public middle and high school in Kentucky to provide instruction on the Holocaust and other acts of genocide.

Ann’s daughter, Linda Klein, said, “Learning about this history empowers these students to understand and hopefully prevent this type of event from being repeated. Given our current rising climate of hate and prejudice in the world, awareness of our history through required education will hopefully bring a new level of understanding and acceptance to people of different faiths, cultures, and backgrounds.”

While also working to secure state legislation, proceeds from the Ann Klein Memorial Fund for Holocaust Education have helped students visit the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C., and in 2018, will support Kentucky teachers as they travel to Poland to visit Auschwitz with the group, Classroom Without Borders.

Linda said her mother, Ann, used to tell the students, “In 1944, if there would have been children like those of you who are now studying and learning about the Holocaust, they would have spoken up, protested, and not allowed this to have happened.”

In the wake of this new legislation and mandatory education, Ann’s family invites you to contribute to this important fund to continue the education of teachers and students, and to keep Ann Klein’s legacy alive.

If you are interested in learning more about the fund and donating, please visit MyFund or contact Kate Biagi-Rickert.