Nina Katz inspired thousands of students, teachers, and community members through sharing her remarkable reflections as a Holocaust survivor. Born in Sosnowiec, Poland, she was among 800 survivors to be liberated from Oberaltstadt, a slave labor camp, in 1945. Her parents, grandfather, and younger sister were killed at Auschwitz concentration camp. After the war she worked with an organization to reunite families torn apart by the war until she was able to move to Memphis with her husband in 1949. It was in Memphis where she continued her mission to tell her story as a survivor, becoming a voice for tolerance, diversity, and literacy. She helped establish the Memphis Literacy Council, co-founded Diversity Memphis, and was the first female chairman of the board for the Memphis chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews. For 40 years, she gave speeches to schools, churches, and communities on her experiences during the Holocaust and never accepted payment. Katz used her story to caution others about what can happen in a society fueled by prejudice and hatred of the “other.” Her dedication to preventing history from repeating itself was essential in helping to establish the Memphis office of Facing History and Ourselves. Nina went on to serve on the Facing History and Ourselves Memphis Advisory Board and was a frequent speaker at the summer seminars for educators.
For more information on Nina Katz, read Out of the Night: The Life and Legacy of Holocaust Survivor Nina Katz.
Thank you to photographer Mick Wright for the image of Nina Katz used in this project.