Presidential Medal of Freedom

Scottsdale, Arizona

Gerda enjoyed retirement in Scottsdale with her husband, Kurt and family.

Later in life Gerda and her husband, Kurt, decided to move to Scottsdale which is located just outside of Phoenix, Arizona to be closer to their family. Gerda continued traveling throughout the country speaking at events, high schools, and televised talk shows like Oprah, about her experiences during the Holocaust. In 1995, her memoir, All But my Life, was adapted by HBO into the short film, One Survivor Remembers. The film would go on to win the Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject and the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Informational Special.

In 2008, Gerda co-founded the Citizenship Counts, which is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to educate students. The education focuses on the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, inspire pride in America, and to encourage them to participate in community service or outreach programs.

On February 15, 2011, Gerda Weissmann Klein and 14 other recipients were invited to the White House by former President Barack Obama to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. This is the highest civilian award for the United States of America. At the ceremony, President Obama is quoted by saying, “Gerda Weissmann Klein’s life is a testament to the tenacity of the human spirit. A Holocaust survivor, she was separated from her parents and sent to a series of Nazi labor camps. In 1945, she was one of a few survivors among those forced to undergo a 350-mile death march to avoid the progress of liberating Allied forces. From tragedy to triumph, she and her husband proudly started the Gerda and Kurt Klein Foundation to promote tolerance, respect and empowerment of students throughout the world. By sharing her stories and encouraging others to see themselves in one another, Gerda Klein has helped to advance understanding among all people.” (Secretary, 2011)

At the age of 96, Gerda has retired from her busy schedule of traveling the country to talk about her experiences from the Holocaust. She now enjoys a life of friends, family, and her cat, Fitzgerald by her side.