had a normal childhood until 1944.
Now, years later, she
still has nightmares of her
family being taken from their home by the Nazis.
"I was 13 years old at the time when I was taken with my family to Auschwitz, just before D-Day," said Berkovitz, Purdue Professor Emerita of biology.
At the concentration camp, Berkovitz
family faced grim odds of survival.
survival, as Berkovitz
says, can only be accounted for by a series of miracles. ...
and Elizabeth were taken to Camp-C in Birkenau.
To this day Anna
ponders how she
survived six months of brutal treatment, harsh conditions, starvation and disease there.
In November 1944, Anna
and Elizabeth were transferred to a slave labor camp near Magdeburg, Germany, where they were put to work in an underground ammunition factory.
This year, Berkovitz
will be attending the conference, but participating in these events brings personal pain.
"It's very difficult for me ... to me it's just like it happened yesterday, so I don't need a conference to remember."
recognizes and even asserts the necessity of the conference and sees participating as a duty.
"I think I owe it to the people who died to be remembered."
Berkovitz's story does not end in Sweden; rather, her
rescue from tyranny marks the start of a new journey that defies the unthinkable trauma of the Holocaust.
In Sweden, Berkovitz
maintains that she
suffered from no depression or bitterness and looked forward to the future.
"I could have lived my life as a victim, but I did not," she
In April 1946, Anna
and Elizabeth emigrated to the United States.
In order to resume her schooling, Anna worked as an au-pair for several years.
During this time she completed four years of high school and four years of college, graduating from U.C.L.A. in January 1952 with a B.S. degree in bacteriology and with Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude honors.
While working as a laboratory technician, Anna
met Leonard Berkovitz, who was then a post-doctoral fellow at Caltech
During this period Anna
worked part time in various cancer research laboratories.
When Kenneth was in kindergarten, Anna
decided to continue her
was accepted as a graduate student in the biology department at Purdue University
She was working on her Ph.D. thesis when, in 1967, she was asked to take a temporary teaching position to fill an unexpected vacancy in the department.
This temporary position turned into a lifetime career of teaching, and while Anna never obtained her Ph.D., she earned a tenured position from which she retired in 2003 as Professor Emerita in Biology.
Anna's efforts as a teacher, her
dedication to her
students and to the discipline were amply recognized by her
students, colleagues and the administration.
was selected by the students as one of the Top Ten Outstanding Teachers in the School of Science 14 times, she
received the Murphy Award, the top recognition of teaching excellence by the University, and was given the Chiscon Award for outstanding teaching performance by the Biology department.
was elected to the Teaching Academy at Purdue
name is in the Purdue Book of Great Teachers.
has more time to travel, attend theater, to be active in her
Temple, and to winter in California.
But, what she
most enjoys is still interacting with young people, be it her
own five grandchildren or students at the University.
currently participates in the University
Honors Program, where she
developed a new course, "The New Genetics - New Perspectives, New Dilemmas," which she
teaches in the Fall semesters. ...
Preventing scars such as these in others is a duty for Berkovitz; an obligation driving her
to participate in programs such as the Holocaust Remembrance Conference.
"It's very relevant to what's going on in the world today."
I had Dr. Berkovitz
for the Honors Genetics course (mentioned in the article) and for Human Genetics, and she
was one of my favorite professors here at Purdue
You could tell she
was passionate about the subject, and she
did a great job of explaining genetics.
In class she
would encourage stimulating discussions on eugenics, genetic testing, gene patenting, and abortion.
overheard me telling another student about the Society of Non-Theists
asked to be put on the mailing list and has attended all of our pro-evolution events (including my talk about the Creation Museum).
From our class discussions, I could tell she
shared my liberal views.
even once showed us a clip of Stephen Colbert talking about DNA, and we were the only two to giggle when he
talked about Jesus burying the dinosaurs.
But in addition to being a great professor and skeptic, she was a wonderful person.
would always take time to talk to me about random articles in the news she
thought I would be interested in.
encouraged me to shoot for the stars when it came to genetics.
When I was still considering becoming a genetic counselor, she encouraged me to get a PhD, saying someone with my skills in genetics should be doing research or running the clinic.
And when I had asked her
to write me a letter of recommendation for grad school, I discovered that her
husband had passed away just a week before.
Seeing someone I looked up to so much distraught and crying was horrible.
I quickly told her
I could easily find someone else to do it, but she
insisted - even when overwhelmed with grief, she
wanted to help her