Survivor Story: Jeannine Burk

By Jenna Kollins

Her Story

Jeannine Burk's childhood was not normal. Not by a longshot. Jeannine was Jewish in Germany during the Nazi regime. Instead of spending her childhood years in a concentration camp or ghetto, however, she spent it in a strangers home as a hidden child136. She spent two years of her childhood in a home with a family that was not hers. She had no toys, no friends, and got little fresh air. Despite this, she was never harmed or mistreated by her "family". Fortunately for Jeannine, her mother came to get her in the fall of 1944, along with her brother and sister137. Now all that was left was her dad's return, but tragically that day would never come. Jeannine's father was gassed in Auschwitz after being taken from his home138. Jeannine says that if she would have been home at that time, she would have been taken and gassed as well. She also says that there are no pictures of her and her father, save one tiny one from when she was little. In 1950, her mother died as well139. However her luck began to turn when the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union was holding a 50th anniversary celebration in Atlantic City, New Jersey140. Her sister was chosen to attend, and Jeannine recalls this trip being the best of her entire life. When they were there they were featured in a Yiddish newspaper, where they were recognized by their relatives141. In 1952 Jeannine landed in New York to be officially adopted by her relatives. They treated her nicely and gave her things she had never had. Eventually she grew up and married a man who she later divorced before settling down with her current husband. Although her life had taken a drastic turn for the better, she could not shake the memories of the Holocaust142. "I was a grown mother with six kids and I would be driving in City Park and I would imagine that my father would show up." she recalls in one instance. She said his death finally hit her when she saw his name in a Nazi record book in Philadelphia143. Jeannine also goes on to say that she does not forgive the German people because they were too passive about the situation. They claim they did not know, when it was all over, the clues were all over, the camps were all over, but they turned the other cheek144. Until they own up and admit they were in the wrong, Jeannine says she will not be able to forgive them.