A Conversation With My Mom - A Holocaust Survivor

Original Program Date: April 26, 2020

Very special heartfelt thanks to our sponsors for making this program a reality: Matt & Shane Broffman and Andrew Snyder.

The Holocaust Center featured local writer Greg Dawson, author of Hiding in the Spotlight: A Musical Prodigy’s Story of Survival 1941-1946. Greg shared the harrowing story of how his mother survived the Holocaust.  Zhanna Arshanskaya, Greg’s mom, was a gifted child musician who had been offered a scholarship to the Moscow State Conservatory. Her life changed dramatically in 1941 when Germany invaded the Soviet Union and began rounding up Jewish families. Thanks to her father’s cunning, Zhanna and her sister Frina escaped and fled to the countryside, hiding and surviving as best they could until they eventually found shelter in an orphanage.

The sisters’ musical talent was discovered by the occupying forces. With new names and non-Jewish identities, they ended up performing for the unsuspecting Nazis. After the war, without family or resources, the girls were sent to a displaced persons camp. At the urging of the camp’s director, in 1946 they emigrated to New York and enrolled at Juilliard on scholarships.