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This Is Your Life Hanna Bloch Kohner

This Is Your Life Hanna Bloch Kohner

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Tuesday, January 27, 2015 - 7:00 pm


Listen to audio from the program

Julie Kohner presented a unique and personal approach to Holocaust education through the use of broadcast and interactive media.

Her mother, Hanna Bloch Kohner was the first Holocaust survivor to be featured on national television, in a 1953 episode of This Is Your Life.

The original episode was shared with the audience during this program, along with artifacts from the show. Spertus Professor of Holocaust Studies Dr. Elliot Lefkovitz joined Ms. Kohner for a conversation about the importance of this TV segment in American understanding of the Holocaust.

Watch a clip from This is Your Life

Julie Kohner
was prepared by her parents to become their voice for future generations. In 1990, she created a program to teach Holocaust history to 7th-graders. Thus began Voices of the Generations, which has now been presented to groups for 24 years throughout the US and Canada.

Elliot Lefkovitz is the Education Consultant at Am Yisrael Congregation, an Adjunct Professor at Loyola University, and a longtime member of the Spertus faculty. He has served as the historical consultant for Holocaust-related films and is an interviewer for survivor oral histories.

Following the program, Julie Kohner signed
copies of Hanna and Walter: A Love Story,
her parents' extraordinary story.

From Jan Lisa Huttner for JUF News

May 27, 1953. Viewers tune into one of their favorite new television shows to watch host Ralph Edwards zero in on a young couple in his studio audience. The man is Jeffrey Hunter, a handsome actor soon to be immortalized as John Wayne’s co-star in
The Searchers, but who is the woman?

Cameras focus on her lovely young face as Edwards proclaims: “Hanna Bloch Kohner: This Is Your Life!”

Eight years after her liberation from Mauthausen Concentration Camp, Hanna Bloch Kohner thus becomes one of the first Holocaust survivors to publicly tell her story.

This Is Your Life Charm Bracelet

When This Is Your Life featured a female guest, she was presented with a custom-crafted charm bracelet. Pictured is the bracelet presented to Hanna Bloch Kohner. Below is the explanation of each charm (courtesy of Julie Kohner, who will wear the bracelet for her presentation at Spertus).

  1. This Is Your Life charm 
  2. Czechoslovakia (where Hanna was born)
  3. Heart for Hanna and her husband Walter
  4. House symbolizing the place where Hanna’s family vacationed
  5. Suitcase for Hanna’s pre-WWII plan to study hotel management
  6. The Sun Also Rises, which was on Hanna’s nightstand when she was arrested in Amsterdam
  7. Date (May 7, 1945) of Hanna’s liberation from Mauthausen 
  8. Walter Kohner’s US army jeep
  9. Walter Kohner’s US army cap
  10. Walter Kohner’s US army insignia
  11. Flag of Luxembourg where Hanna and Walter married in 1945
  12. Star of David 
  13. American flag for Hanna’s new home
  14. Statue of Liberty 


This program was made possible with support from the Bernard and Rochelle Zell Center for Holocaust Studies at Spertus Institute.