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Rosalie Chris Lerman (1926 - 2016)

Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images

Rosalie Chris Lerman (1926 - 2016)

Rosalie Chris Lerman, Holocaust survivor and educator, died May 20, 2016 of natural causes according to multiple news sources. She was 90.

Born Krysia Rozalia Laks in Starachowice, Poland, in 1926, she survived the infamous death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau and later emigrated to the United States with her husband, Miles Lerman, who she married in a Displaced Persons camp after the war.

Despite not speaking English when they came to America, the couple thrived. They owned a chicken farm in Vineland, New Jersey as well as a home heating oil distributorship. However, despite success in their new life, they did not turn a blind eye to their painful past.

Miles Lerman was a founder and chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., while she lectured widely about her personal Holocaust experience.

Sara J. Bloomfield, director of the museum, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that she was Miles’ “secret weapon.”

“She had a remarkable combination of traits,” Bloomfield said, “She was warm and wise and compassionate, and had really keen people smarts. She made people feel special. She had a really unique capacity for empathy. You’d have to work really hard not to love Chris Lerman.”

Her daughter, Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer recalled her mother’s positive outlook, despite the bleak experiences of her youth.

“She always believed compassion was the strongest weapon and the driver of everything good in civilization. She believed compassion would win and life would be restored,” she told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Lerman and her two sisters survived Auschwitz-Birkenau. Her daughter said they felt an obligation to look out for one another after losing their mother.

She was preceded in death by her husband Miles Lerman, who died in 2008. She is survived by her daughter and son, five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

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