Newsletter – April 2021

On this Festival of Pesach to our friends in the Jewish community:
“Chag Kasher v’same’ach”
חַג כָּשֵׁר וְשָׂמֵחַ

Wishing a happy and kosher for-Passover holiday

And for those in the Western Christian Church in this coming Easter Season:
“Christ is risen!” – and the response – “He is risen indeed!”

And to our brothers and sisters in the Eastern Christian Church this April:
“Khristós anésti!” – and the response – “Alithós anésti!”

Holocaust Remembrance Day
(Yom HaShoah)
April 7 (sunset) to April 8 (sunset)

What is Yom HaShoah?
Yom HaShoah (יום השואה) and in English as Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Holocaust Day, is observed as Israel’s day of commemoration for the approximately six million Jews and five million others who perished in the Holocaust as a result of the actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its allies, and for the Jewish resistance in that period. In Israel, it is a national memorial day and a public holiday. It was inaugurated in 1953, anchored by a law signed by the Prime Minister of Israel David Ben-Gurion and the President of Israel Yitzhak Ben-Zvi.

Ways to remember Yom HaShoah
There are a number of things you can do on this day to remember, to learn, and to reflect. Go to the website below and look at the ways you can deepen your understanding of the Shoah. Most are free tours and events. For some events, there is a fee to participate.

You are invited to recall survivors who came to Muskegon for our commemoration events and addressed the community and spoke at special learning events with area high school, sharing their recollections.
Light a candle in their memory.

The year 2020 brought with it a pandemic forcing many groups and institutions to cancel their programming. The Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies-Muskegon was no different.

We were able to provide two events on ZOOM.
In January 2021, Karen Shawn, a professor of literature and writer of readers, play on the years leading up to the Holocaust. The play was done by students from Fruitport High School and faculty, under teacher Sarah Woycehoski. Karen then took questions from the viewers.

In March 2021, Irene Miller, a children survivor, shared her recollections on ZOOM and took questions. Her book, Into No-Man’s Land, is available through the Center. To get a copy, email your request to

We are also providing funds for teachers to book a virtual tour of the Southeast Michigan Holocaust Center in Farmington Hills for their history or literature classes. Contact Mr. Tom Hicken at Muskegon Area Intermediate School District.

WE WOULD LIKE TO SAY THANK YOU to all those who supported the work of the Center through the Holiday Bread sale in December 2020. The format was different given the issues surrounding COVID, but the orders came. Our partnership with Annunciation Orthodox Church was really great and provided and wealth of taste.
Our deepest thanks to First Baptist Church who opened its kitchen doors to the bakers.

If you desire to support the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies – Muskegon, you may send your contribution to CHGS-Muskegon, PO Box 452, Muskegon MI 49440. Make your checks payable to

Our primary fundraising event is Holiday Bread and Pastry.

This December the dates for pick-up will be December 4, 11, 18.

Information on bread and pastry will be posted in November and orders can be placed beginning November 14th. Our email is –

Gerry Manko

Gerald H. Manko was born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1927. His name was Gerhardt Heinz Manko. His father, Ruben Hermann Manko was born in Alsenow, a farm town near Frankfurt. His family dated back to the mid-1700s.

The Manko family lived on Petina Platz, a park near the railway station. They had a first-floor flat. They attended the “West End” synagogue on the High Holy Days, the men wearing top hats.

His father, Ruben Herman Manko, was a prominent attorney. The family’s only language was German. The family was non-political but conversed daily about what was happening to the Jewish people. Gerry’s father was a World War I veteran, who received the Iron Cross, the German Purple Heart.

The Manko’s applied for a Visa in 1936, coinciding with the Nuremberg Laws. Professionals, like doctors and lawyers, were stripped of their credentials. His father lost his license to practice law.

On November 9, 1938, he witnessed Kristallnacht. The school principal sent everyone home and, on the way, he passed the synagogue which was on fire. He saw the broken glass in store windows. The old German families, including his, thought this would blow over.
The concentration camps opened and, Mr. Manko’s father was picked up on Kristallnacht and sent to Dachau.

Gerry’s mother took his father’s Iron Cross and went to Gestapo headquarters, hoping to remove him from Dachau. She succeeded and he was released on December 2nd or 3rd. His father arrived home and the next morning, the entire family boarded a train to Stuttgart to the scheduled appointment at the American Consulate for their physical and visas. Mr. Manko’s father didn’t pass his physical, as his legs showed the wounds from WWI, although after the war, he became a skier and tennis player.

Their American sponsor was Mr. Manko’s uncle, Isadore Freimark, who came to the United States in the early 1900s and opened a dry goods store in Lemon, South Dakota.

First, the Manko family traveled to Holland on the train and met Mr. Manko’s brother there. They boarded the S.S. Manhattan, taking nothing with them, but made plans to have their possessions shipped. Nothing ever arrived. Their trip was horrid, and the ship was covered in ice. When they saw the Statue of Liberty, the entire family became emotional. His brother had been seasick for the entire seven days and nights. They landed in January of 1939 and were met by Elsa Doner, a cousin, who said “change your first name and get a haircut.” Friends began calling him Jerry.
Gerry wanted to become a lawyer and went to Detroit College of Law at night. He then went to Wayne State University College of Education majoring in Real Estate Management.

Gerry came to Muskegon in 2016 to participate in the Commemoration events.

Gerry married his wife on May 5, 1963. She preceded him in 1998. Gerry died on March 29, 2016.

Miriam Winter

Miriam Winter

Miriam was the daughter of Tobiasz and Maita-Lana Winter, orthodox Jews, of Lodz, Poland. Her father owned a large clothing store. She had one brother, Josef, about 4-1/2 years younger than she.

She had started school and by the age of 6, when the German invasion came, had learned to read and write. Following the start of the war, the family moved, first to Warsaw and then to Ozarow, a small town south of Warsaw. She recalls having to wear the Star of David on her clothing, and the white armband with the blue star identifying her as a Jew.

At the age of 8, in 1941, her parents, foreseeing the extermination of the Jews by the Germans, placed her into the custody of a family friend, a tall, blond, non-Jewish-looking Jewish girl about 18 years old, named Cesia, to improve her chances of survival. On a train from Ozarow, Cesia who was also taking care of her 14-year-old nephew, found a fellow passenger, Maryla Dudek, a Catholic Pole, who was willing to assume custody of Miriam. At the time Maryla did not know that Miriam was Jewish.
Miriam lived in hiding with Maryla in Lwow, but after being detected as being Jewish they moved first to Czudek and then to Wola Rzedzinska. There she lived with a Catholic family, was raised as a Catholic, and attended a school run by Catholic nuns. Her priest, who apparently suspected her true background, would not baptize her but in order not to expose her, devised a scam procedure to make it appear that she had fulfilled the requirements.

Nevertheless, she was again exposed by some of the village people and, therefore, fled to a neighboring village, Hucisko, where Maryla’s sister lived. From Hucisko she was moved to Ranizow. It was there in the summer of 1944 that this area was liberated by the Russian Army.
After liberation, Miriam lived with Maryla in Lwow. Maryla met her husband to be Rysiu (Richard), a baker, and both joined the Polish army which took them to Lublin in the summer of 1944. In Lublin, Miriam was able to fulfill her burning desire to be baptized in December 1944.
When the war ended, they lived in Tworski near Proszkow in a rented room and Miriam was required to sell in the street and at the railroad station the pastries and cakes made by Rysiu. In October 1945, they moved to Zabkowice which was previously part of Germany. She was mistreated, physically and emotionally, by Maryla and Rysiu and in 1948, at the age of 15, fled to Szczecin (Stettin) and while living in an orphanage enrolled in school which leads to high school graduation in June 1951.
From 1951 to 1953 she attended a state-operated school training instructor for amateur theaters. The state paid for room and board. Subsequently, she attended a theater school graduating in 1959.

In Warsaw, she met Romek Orlowski whom she married in April Prior to her marriage she reluctantly admitted to her future husband that she was, in fact, Jewish. Mr. Orlowski readily accepted that fact. While working for a governmental agency, she became so upset at the anti-Israeli, anti-Jewish position of Poland in 1969 that, in an outburst of rage, she openly declared her Jewish heritage at a meeting. Refusing to do a retraction, she was fired from her job.

After several setbacks, they were able to leave in 1969 and went to Italy to await permission for entry into the United States. After 5-1/2 months they left and arrived in Boston in October 1969. In the United States, she had reassumed her Jewish faith and raised both children in it.

Her search to determine the fate of her family started in 1971, with a letter to a Polish newspaper in Israel. She discovered that Cesia, the young woman into whose care she was initially placed, lives in Israel. From Cesia she was able to obtain details of the events leading to her being placed with Maryla. She also found out from a survivor of Ozarow that her entire family was taken to the Treblinka extermination camp where all were murdered. She died in July 2014.

Dave spoke at the Shoah commemoration Service in April 2016.
Holocaust survivor Dave Lux was one of the 669 children on the Kindertransport, a rescue effort before World War II that saved nearly 10,000 Jewish children in Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Germany.

Dave was born on April 12, 1933, in Negrovec, Czechoslovakia, to Mordechai and Esther Pinkasovic, and had an older brother, Yaakov.

In March 1939, Germany invaded Czechoslovakia. Soldiers in Hungarian military uniforms forced the Lux family to flee its home. The family eventually resettled in a crowded building with other refugee families in Slovakia which was an ally of Nazi Germany.

While living there, Lux said a woman approached the refugee parents to ask who was willing to entrust her with their children. Lux said his parents were the only ones. As he and Yaakov were led away from his parents, Lux recalled the confusion he felt like a 5-year-old, at the sight of his mother crying inconsolably. When Lux and his brother arrived in England, they were lodged in a home for Jewish boys and stayed there for 10 years.
The last time Lux and his brother saw their parents was when the boys boarded the train in Slovakia. Lux said he later learned that his parents, who were held in a ghetto in Slovakia, now an ally with Nazi Germany. His parents were transported to Auschwitz and killed in a gas chamber.
He died October 29, 2018, at the age of 85.