Today is November 24, 2020; the

Congregation Sons of Abraham

The heart of Jewish life in the La Crosse area for over 100 years

1820 Main Street, La Crosse, WI 54601
(608) 784-2708 |

Holocaust Survivor to speak at Viterbo April 7th

Dear Friends,

For the past 10 years, Viterbo University through the D.B. Reinhart Institute for Leadership in Ethics, directed by Dr. Rick Kyte, has been bringing Holocaust survivors to the area.  Far too soon the world will be left to rely on memoirs and videos to learn the lessons of the Holocaust.  On Thursday April 7th at 7:00 p.m., we will bring another Holocaust survivor to the Viterbo Fine Arts Center to speak to our community free of charge.

Holocaust survivor Magda Herzberger was born February 20, 1926, in Cluj, Romania.  On August 30, 1940, the northern part of Transylvania (in Romania, including the capital city of Cluj) was annexed by Hungary, an ally of Nazi Germany.  Life for Cluj’s nearly 17,000 Jews grew steadily worse over the next four years.  On March 27, 1944, the Germans occupied northern Transylvania (Romania) and took large-scale anti-Semitic measures.  It was liquidated only a month later.  Magda and her family were sent to Auschwitz where most of them perished.

After six weeks in Auschwitz, 18 year-old Magda was shipped to Bremen, Germany.  She did forced labor as the city was bombed by Allied forces.  In March 1945, Magda was transferred to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.  Her job there was to dispose of thousands of corpses that had accumulated in and around the barracks.  On April 15, 1945, she collapsed from exhaustion.  Magda was near death when she was found among the corpses by a liberating British soldier.

After months in a recovery camp, Magda returned to Cluj, late in 1945.  In June 1946, she met Eugene Herzberger and the following autumn they married and she began medical school.  Fearing persecution under communism, the Herzbergers fled Romania for Palestine in December 1947.  The British, who severely restricted immigration to Palestine, captured their ship in the Aegean Sea and brought it to Cyprus.  The Herzbergers were held in a makeshift prison camp until permitted to leave for Israel in January 1949.

In 1957, after nine years in Israel, the Herzbergers immigrated to the U.S.  They and their two children settled in Monroe, WI, where Magda’s husband practiced neurosurgery for 16 years.  They moved to Dubuque, Iowa, in 1976 and to Arizona in 1994.

Magda has spoken extensively about her experiences and has written 13 books including several volumes of poetry.  I am calling her our “arts” survivor.  Magda is a former mountain climber, skier, and marathon runner.  Besides being a trained psychologist, she is a composer and a poet.

I look forward to seeing you.  Please invite friends to join you, and do come early to get a seat.  Feel free to email me at or call me at 612-720-6447 with questions.  The age of survivors is drawing to a close.  To meet Holocaust survivors in person is to touch history.  No two stories are alike, but the sense of the story—the impact of terror, deprivation and personal loss—touches the listener.  It is difficult to describe the feeling of awe a person experiences when hearing history from one who lived it.  I am certain you will leave inspired and more appreciative of your own life.  Please do not miss this opportunity


Darryle Clott