The mission of The Hannah Ida Urman Foundation is to remember and learn about the innocent victims tortured and murdered by Hitler’s Nazi regime. Toward that goal, we share the personal story of Hannah, her children and family, the Jewish communities she knew, and the stories of so many other people devastated by the Third Reich.
After six decades of silence, Ben was compelled to share his story. He spoke fervently about his tragic experiences through public speaking, video interviews and his biography, Silent for Sixty Years, co-authored by Mark Leach.
By facilitating educational programs that share these human
stories, we believe this enables communities to bond together and strengthen their commitment
to preventing future genocides.
This Foundation is dedicated to the legacy of keeping the stories of those who suffered and died and
those who suffered and survived, always
alive and meaningful for this and
Co-founder/director Sharon Hannah Berry is one of Hannah’s seven grandchildren. Along with her sisters, Sandra and Cynthia, this foundation was created to fulfill their father’s wishes. Sharon is self-employed in a research capacity and is a contractor for a global auction company. She is writing a book to be titled After the Silence.
I have never seen a picture of my grandmother Hannah, though I continue to search records and photos that have become available. This seemingly small matter is a profound metaphor that illustrates the reality of a life once lived full and normal — extinguished from humanity. Those of us, who carry on the legacy for the victims of this atrocity, have a responsibility to keep their stories alive in ways that honor, respect, and inspire. It is my intent to promote the affirming lessons students can learn through Holocaust education, hearing personal histories and conscientious reflection.
Barb Schweissguth, corporate secretary, is a Program Coordinator for a regional library. For many years, she planned educational events for children in public and private schools. She recently transitioned to adult community programs and events.
I met Ben through my work at Scenic Regional Library, where he was speaking to a standing-room-only crowd. We quickly became friends, and like many other people, Ben had a profound effect on me. Ben fought health issues until the day he died to tell his this story so the world would never forget Hitler’s atrocities. As an advocate for historical education, I believe it is extremely important that students learn the events of WWII, reflect upon their significance, and remember what hate did. As a dear friend, I am passionate about playing a role to keep Ben’s and Hannah’s stories alive.
Liane Holliday Willey, EdD, board member, is an internationally-renowned author and keynote speaker on autism spectrum conditions, communications, and learning diversity. Her personal diagnosis and years of discrimination drove her to write and advocate on behalf of others on the spectrum.
I met Ben around 1968, when he moved his family to the neighborhood close to where I lived in St Louis County. Ben’s kids and I became fast friends giving me a close look behind the many phases of Ben’s everyday life, including the terrors that haunted him.
As fate would have it, my father, John Holliday, was among the first group of American soldiers to reach a camp where Ben was imprisoned. I grew to see how both men were marked by the horrors of discrimination and abuse. One had lived the torture, and one had witnessed it. Neither man was ever the same … both held the devastation in their souls. My father was in awe of the strength Ben summoned when he began to share his story with the world; he was an inspiration to all he met. What a legacy of love he shared through his death and now, beyond. It is a legacy I am honored to uphold for it is a legacy we can all embrace and share so that evil may never win.
MALKA "MOLLY" URMAN
was Hannah’s aunt, who lived in Bedzin, Poland. She was married in Bedzin and came to the U.S. in the early 1900's and settled in New York. Her husband Sam Finkel was a co-founder of the Fraternal Order of Benden Sosnowiecer ("FOBS"), a landsmanschaften established in 1929 and still in existence today; FOSB helped immigrants from their homeland region settle in the U.S. before and after WWII. Molly and Sam had three children -- Rose, Anna and Rachael, who are now deceased; Molly and Sam have seven grandchildren, 22 great grandchildren, 28 second great grandchildren and 10 third great grandchildren -- currently.
May their memories be a blessing.
Molly and Sam at their grand daughter Barbara's wedding in 1957