Lisl Bogart, Resident of Sedgebrook in Lincolnshire, IL, Educates Children and Adults About The Holocaust and Warns of Dangers of Prejudice

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Yom HaShoah, the Holocaust Day of Remembrance, is observed this year on April 15th. The day commemorates the six million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust, and honors the survivors, liberators and rescuers like Lisl Bogart, a 89-year old survivor, has spent her adult life talking to individuals and groups about her experience.

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“Speaking to groups about the Holocaust is something I want to keep doing as long as I’m able. We are the last generation of witnesses and every day we are fewer and fewer. It’s important to educate people about hatred,” said Lisl.

Seven decades later, the message remains brutally relevant. Lisl Bogart, a resident of Sedgebrook in Lincolnshire, has spent much of her adult life educating children and adults about the Holocaust, and warning about the dangers of prejudice. “It’s important to know. Even now, it’s happening all over the world,” the 89-year-old Holocaust survivor said.

Lisl lived in Prague with her family, when it was invaded by the German Army in March of 1939. In 1942, Lisl and her parents were taken to Theresienstadt concentration camp. In 1943, she was being loaded onto a crowded cattle car with her parents, headed to Auschwitz. For a reason she’s never been able to learn, she was removed at the last minute. “There were 5000 Czech Jews who were all killed in one night. I was kicked off the ramp while getting into the cattle car. I don’t know why. Perhaps it was either fate, luck, or God’s will. I never saw any one in my family again,” she recalled.

Lisl stayed at Theresienstadt concentration camp and spent the next three years in forced labor. Theresienstadt, she said, was a staging ground for a sham to convince the Red Cross that the Jewish prisoners were well cared for. In reality, tens of thousands of people were held at the camp while awaiting transit to Treblinka and Auschwitz for extermination.

Lisl contracted typhoid and was left in an isolation area to die, when Theresienstadt was liberated by the Russians in 1945. Of her extended family of 43 members, Lisl was the only survivor. “Everyone else was brutally murdered. I was the only one to make it."

Lisl returned to Prague and spent the next year working and preparing to immigrate to the U.S. She eventually moved to New York where one of her mother’s brothers lived. “I got a job doing alterations in a very fancy dress shop. I had learned how to sew, knit and crochet so that helped. The rest, I faked my way through,” she said. She and a friend then went out on their own as dressmakers for private clients.

Lisl met her husband Hank a short time after moving to New York. “He had lived in Vienna and was able to get out just in time ahead of the Nazis,” she said. They’ve been married 68 years.

For many years Lisl said, she was warned not to talk about the Holocaust. “My uncle told me no one wanted to know,” she said, “I don’t know if it was because people felt guilty that they didn’t help us, or if they were afraid it would open old wounds. Of course those wounds never heal, and it was necessary that we talk and teach about hatred and prejudice.“

Years before the Illinois Holocaust Museum was established, Lisl and other survivors formed a speakers’ bureau in a building on Main Street in Skokie. For many years, she said, she spoke almost every day at schools, synagogues, churches, etc. She has also been interviewed many times, and is part of The USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History, launched by Steven Spielberg.

“Speaking to groups about the Holocaust is something I want to keep doing as long as I’m able. We are the last generation of witnesses and every day we are fewer and fewer. It’s important to educate people about hatred,” said Lisl.

“I am constantly amazed by the fascinating lives of the residents of Sedgebrook,” said Deann Daniel, executive director of the retirement community. “They have such powerful stories and experiences to share.”

Sedgebrook is a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) offering a diverse lifestyle, maintenance-free living and outstanding amenities. Five-star rated Radford Green Health Care and Rehabilitation is located on the 92-acre Sedgebrook campus in Lincolnshire, Illinois. Sedgebrook is owned by Senior Care Development LLC and managed by Life Care Services LLC. For additional information visit or call 847-901-3319.

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Bridget Machalinski

Bridget Machalinski
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