KC Holocaust survivor featured in traveling ‘Lest We Forget’ exhibit reflects on family’s history

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The “Lest We Forget” exhibit at the World War I Museum in Kansas City features seven local Holocaust survivors, but one of those survivors says there are many more.

The artist behind the project, Luigi Toscano, started it 4 years ago.

“It was hard in the beginning because people wanted to invest in the future, not the past,” Toscano said. “But now I have 400 pictures of survivors and travel the world with them.”

Steve Sherry said he appreciates being a part of a project that sheds light on important history.

“We were living in Vienna, Austria, in 1938,” the 81-year-old said. “I was born between the annexation of Austria by Germany with the night of rioting and burning of Jewish property. This was not a random act. It was a planned and coordinated attack.”

Sherry showed FOX4 countless documents and photos that helped him tell his family’s story.

“Hitler was praised back then,” he said. “Women were hanging out of their windows throwing flowers as the German army marched in, so there was no resistance to the annexation.”

Sherry opened his photo album on Monday, showing photos of his mother and father along with their birth certificates.

“This is when life got harder,” he said. “Officials of some kind came to our apartment and took my mother’s jewelry and anything of value.”

“My parents knew at that time that people had been deported to concentration camps, but it had not developed to the monster it became,” he continued. “At the time is was just for holding people.”

Sherry said his grandmother disappeared around this time, and the Nazi army became more aggressive.

“They came up to the carriage and asked, ‘Is that a Jewish baby?'” he said.

Sherry has blonde hair and blue eyes so he was able to pass as German — but his parents weren’t.

“Unlike a lot of others, my family had the means to get out of Germany,” he said.

They bought three tickets to board a ship in France that would take them to New York and ultimately land them in Kansas City.

“There was a large Austrian community in Kansas City at that time,” he explained. “They all spoke German though, so as a child, I spoke it, too.”

Sherry told FOX4 that he’s grateful that his parents shared their history, but he added that he wished he asked the right questions while they were still alive.

“My dad kept a lot of documents that I donated to the National Holocaust Museum in D.C.,” he said.

The Steven Sherry Collection can be found at the National Holocaust Museum today.

“We have to talk about these injustices because there are still some happening today,” he said.

The “Lest We Forget” exhibition will be on display at the WWI Museum until Sunday. You can find more information here.

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