Saturday, May 20, 12 p.m., Orcas Community Church
— from Didier Gincig —
Noémi Ban, 94-years old, a Hungarian-born American Jew and survivor of the Holocaust, will talk about her life on Saturday, May 20 at 12:00 at the Community Church. She is a Golden Apple Award-winning lecturer, public speaker, and teacher residing in Bellingham. During Operation Margarethe, the German invasion and occupation of Hungary, She and three other family members and eleven other relatives were sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, arriving on July 1, 1944. All of Ban’s family members in Auschwitz were killed, but Ban herself was transferred by Dr. Josef Mengele to the Buchenwald concentration camp to work in a bomb factory, where she intentionally constructed faulty bombs.
On Apr. 15, 1945, the campmates of Buchenwald were forced to march to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. On the way, Ban and eleven of her campmates escaped and were discovered by the U.S. Army, who had just liberated the Bergen-Belsen camp.
Ban returned to Budapest, Hungary, in Sep. 1945, where she reunited with her father. That October she married a Budapester teacher, Bán Ernő (later Earnest Ban).
After the Communist occupation and takeover of Hungary between 1947 and 1948, Ban became a 7th and 8th grade teacher herself. Suffering from Soviet oppression, Ban, Earnest, and their two sons, István (Steven) and György (George), tried to escape to Austria, but were stopped on a train crossing the border. On Dec. 29, 1956, less than a month later, the Bans again tried to cross, this time hidden in a shipment of giant balls of yarn. The attempt succeeded and they ended up in Sopron, Austria.
In 1957, Noémi and her family moved to St. Louis, Missouri. She and Earnest learned English and earned degrees in education. Their son Steven moved to Bellingham, Washington, prompting Noémi and Earnest to move in 1982.
After her husband’s death, Ban became a public Holocaust speaker, giving lectures nationally and internationally. In 2003, she wrote “Sharing Is Healing: A Holocaust Survivor’s Story,” an autobiography of her experiences during the Holocaust and as a public speaker. In 2007 her life was made into the documentary film “My Name Is Noémi.”