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"I believe there is a danger about not speaking out when you see trouble brewing. We need to keep talking about it so that future generations will know how human beings can turn into beasts and that how keeping quiet is extremely dangerous. I believe that the on-looker, bystander is as much as fault as the perpetrator, because he lets it happen. I have a fear of the so-called silent majority. That is a very frightening thing."
Hinda Danziger Kibort was born in Kaunas, Lithuania on April 14, 1921. Her parents, Shlomo and Gesya Danziger, were originally from Riga, Latvia, and had moved to Kaunas so her father could pursue a career in shoe design. The family moved to Siauliai, Lithuania in 1930, where Hinda’s father became a shoe designer for a very large and famous shoe factory.
Hinda remembers feeling the effects of the Nazis rise to power even as far away as Lithuania in 1933, she attended a German private school, and she and the other four Jewish students were forced to leave. Hinda was 20 when the German Army occupied Siauliai in June 1941. By an act of fate her brother Harry (who had been attending school in Kaunas), had come home for a visit at the same time Hinda had returned home from the University in Vilnus, so the entire family including her sister Frida (Feifer) were together. On July 1 the Germans arrested Hinda’s father.Hinda managed to get him released after meeting with a Nazi official at German headquarters. The same official was later in charge of the extermination of Hinda’s extended family in Riga.
In September 1941, the family was sent to the Siauliai ghetto. On November 4 and 5 the Germans rounded up all the Jewish children and deported them to Auschwitz. This event had a profound effect on Hinda and the other survivors of the ghetto.
In July 1944 the rest of the ghetto inhabitants were deported to Stuthoff a camp in Danzig, Poland. On January 1945 Hinda, her sister and her mother were part of a forced death march. On the march the women were forced to run into an open field where the Germans opened fire, killing Hinda’s mother. Of the close to 90 women on that march, only 10 emerged from the woods, including Hinda and her sister. They were liberated the next morning by the Russian Army.
After the war Hinda worked for the Central Committee of Liberated Jews in Munich. Hinda’s sister, brother and father survived the war and Hinda, her brother and father came to the US in 1949. In 1950 Hinda arrived in Minnesota and married Leo Kibort in 1951.
Hinda spoke about her experiences to schools, universities and organizations throughout the state of Minnesota. In March 2003 Hinda testified before the Minnesota Senate Judicial Committee regarding a proposed bill that would have removed the protected class status of homosexual from the Minnesota Human rights act, which would have caused homosexuals in the state of Minnesota to lose many hard-fought rights. She also testified in April 2003 before the House of Representatives Ethics Committee regarding a state legislature’s denial that homosexuals had been murdered by Nazis. Hinda verified that homosexuals were indeed victims of Nazi tyranny, recalling that they were forced to wear the pink triangles that designated their homosexuality while they were imprisoned in concentration camps.
Hinda did not limit her crusade work just to the Holocaust; she was a true human rights activist. Hinda Kibort passed away on June 14, 2003.
Hinda Danziger Kibort’s testimony is available at the University of Minnesota through the Visual History Archive developed by the USC Shoah Foundation institute for Visual History and Education (Also known as the Shoah Project). Visit the Visual History Archive website for more information.
Hinda Kibort spoke of the horrors of the Holocaust. Minneapolis Star Tribune, 6-14-2003 (PDF)
As 'array of witnesses' dwindles, survivor, daughter carry message. Minneapolis Star Tribune, 4-19-2001 (PDF)
Articles pertaining to Minnesota Senate Judicial Committee and House of Representatives Ethics Committee
House Ethics Committee hears testimony in Lindner case. Minneapolis Public Radio, 4-8-2003
Holocaust survivor condemns lawmakers for questioning persecution. Minnesota Public Radio, 5-10-2003