Certificate in Holocaust Pedagogy

Charlotte Area Survivors

Our Community Holocaust Survivors

The Greenspon Center is actively working on a collection of local Holocaust survivor testimonies. We will update this page throughout the process.

  • Our first survivor to highlight is Susan-Cernyak-Spatz, a longtime supporter of our work and an educator who shared her life story with thousands of students during her life. She was a young student when Hitler's rise to power in the 1930s traumatized the life of her family in Austria. (See more below.)

If you are a survivor or G2/G3 and would like to contribute your family’s story to our project, please contact Judy La Pietra Cunningham, Assistant Director, at lapietraj@queens.edu.

Visit our Teaching Through Testimony Educational Resources page for resources specific to using witness testimony in your classroom.


Dr. Susan Cernyak-Spatz


Susan was a young student when Hitler's rise to power in the 1930s traumatized the life of her family in Austria.

Susan was in Theresienstadt until January, 1943 when she was sent on transport to Auschwitz. Susan was selected for “outside work” and managed to survive the first critical two months, in which prisoners either survived th many diseases running rampant in the camp or died. Over two years in which she was in the camp, she learned the rules of survival, which included an “inside job” to avoid the daily selections, marching to and from backbreaking outside work, or the only alternative, going into the “gas.”

View Susan's life through this educational resource, complete with images, timeline, maps, and historical reference links. Thank you to Susan's family for gifting us her story.


    Mrs. Suly Chenkin


    Suly's story begins and ends with a prophecy uttered by her grandmother at the moment she was born. “This child,” she said, “because she was born on the first day of the Jewish New Year, will be lucky her entire life.”

    Six months later the Nazis invaded Lithuania and the word “luck” disappeared for all Jewish people living in that country.

    In 1944, Chenkin’s parents smuggled her outside of the ghetto in a potato sack, just weeks before thousands of Jews were sent to concentration camps abroad. Chenkin’s parents were later sent to separate camps.


    Additional Survivor Testimony Resources

    • Visit the SC Council on the Holocaust’s survivor testimony page, which features SC survivors and liberators.
    • The USC Shoah Foundation's IWitness: IWitness is an educational website developed by USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education that provides access to more than 1,500 full life histories, testimonies of survivors and witnesses to the Holocaust and other genocides for guided exploration.
    • Yale University Library: The Fortunoff Archive and its affiliates recorded the testimonies of willing individuals with first-hand experience of the Nazi persecutions, including those in hiding, survivors, bystanders, resistants, and liberators. 
    • British Library: Learning voices of the Holocaust consists of oral history testimonies gathered from Jewish men and women who came to live in Britain during or after WWII. These testimonies are personal, individual, true stories, that describe the hardships of life during Hitler’s reign. 
    • Yahad In Unum seeks to unsilence a chapter of history that has remained silent for far too long through investigation, education, and engagement.
    Images sourced from unsplash.com by Diana Polekhina