Remembering the African American Holocaust Survivors

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Remembering the African American Holocaust Survivors

This week, April 8- 12, marks the 27th annual observance of Holocaust Memorial Week. The week is about remembering not only the 6 million Jews murdered but also remembering the millions of allies, martyrs and victims who survived Nazi Germany's reign of brutality.

The enormity of the mass slaughtering of Jews that took place—in ghettos, slave labor sites, concentration camps, prisoner-of-war camps, brothels filled with sex slaves and killing factories—is still being discovered as documents are unearthed. New scholarship revealed that, from 1933 to 1945, there were at least 42,500 Nazi ghettos and camps throughout Europe. This represents a staggering increase, far exceeding the original guesstimate.

Thank goodness the stories of the millions of allies, martyrs and victims who survived Nazi Germany continue to be told.

On April 11th, City of Cambridge Annual Commemoration of the Holocaust guest speaker is Holocaust survivor Edgar Krása. Krása will be telling his remarkable story of survival. Krása who ran the Veronique restaurant at Longwood in Brookline, MA. was born in Carlsbad, Czechoslovakia, and moved to Prague in 1933 with his family.

In 1941, Krása was on the first train to the Theresienstadt ghetto in Terezín, now known as the Czech Republic, to help set up the garrison city into a concentration camp. Under Nazi control Krása was ordered to set up the kitchen that fed prisoners-of-war, and he worked there until 1944 when he was deported to Auschwitz. At Auschwitz, Krása walked in the notorious Death March and survived it by feigning death after being shot.

Missing, however, from the annals of history are the documented stories and struggles of African Americans, straight and “queer.” Valaida Snow, captured in Nazi-occupied Copenhagen and interned in a concentration camp for nearly two years, is one such story forgotten.

Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Valaida Snow came from a family of musicians and was famous for playing the trumpet. Named “Little Louis” after Louis Armstrong (who called her the world’s second best jazz trumpet player, besides himself, of course), Snow played concerts throughout the U.S., Europe and China. On a return trip to Denmark after headlining at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, Snow, the conductor of an all-women’s band, was arrested for allegedly possessing drugs and sent to an