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Reflection through Remembrance: My Father’s Secret Holocaust Story

By Lisa Efron, Vice President, Business Development, Hospital Specialty Services


In the tapestry of our family histories, there are often threads not unraveled and stories left unspoken. Unfortunately, this was the case with my father, who quietly carried a remarkable story of survival through the darkest days of the Holocaust and beyond. It wasn’t until after he passed away that I had an unexpected encounter in 2010 with a film producer working on an HBO documentary, “50 Children: The Rescue Mission of Mr. and Mrs. Kraus,” and I learned about an extraordinary chapter in my father’s life.

In 2015, I learned more about his story when a book was written by Steven Pressman, “50 Children: One Ordinary American Couple’s Extraordinary Rescue Mission into the Heart of Nazi Germany.”

The Saving Mission

At the vulnerable age of 12, my father was among 50 children selected for a life-saving mission orchestrated by Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus. In possession of expiring visas that needed to be utilized, they coordinated transportation to rescue children from Austria and the looming horrors of concentration camps. Each child required a sponsor in the United States to be considered for the journey. In my father’s case, a third cousin, whom he had never met, stepped forward to provide the sponsorship.

Leaving Austria in April 1939, my father embarked on a ship that would separate him from his parents, who amazingly managed to reunite with him in the U.S. months later. Tragically, many of their relatives were left behind and never heard from again.

His Legacy Lives On

I am the youngest of my father’s three children, and I owe my existence to the selfless act of the resourceful American couple who chose to do the right thing and the perseverance of my father.

Today, my husband of 40 years and I have two children and four grandchildren, and I find myself reflecting on the profound impact my father, as a survivor, has had on my life.

Although my father never shared the details of his experience of the Holocaust with me, the way he lived instilled in me a deep sense of gratitude for life and a profound understanding of the importance of treating others with kindness. In honor of my father’s legacy, I strive to help others whenever I can, living my personal and professional life with the principle of paying it forward.

As I celebrate two years at TeamHealth, I’m grateful for its commitment to acceptance. In Business Development, I partner with clients to further our inclusive environment. In addition, I feel energized that I get to work in Hospital Specialty Services, specifically OB/GYN, Orthopedics, and General Surgery, to expand patient equity through TeamHealth partnerships.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I reflect on the resilience and strength born from unity. Sharing my father’s untold Holocaust story adds to the collective memory of unimaginable hardships. Let’s pledge to keep these stories alive, guiding us toward a future of acceptance and compassion.

Together, we remember stories of survival, bravery, and solidarity. Every day, we cherish diversity, promote understanding, and strive for a world where kindness prevails.