In 1958, in Israel, Dena Blatt married Thomas Blatt, a Polish Jew and survivor of death camp Sobibor. They moved to California where she helped him to write his book, From the Ashes of Sobibor. With Tom unable to speak English, and she unable to speak Polish, they communicated in Yiddish (which she understood a little). She then translated his memoirs from Yiddish to English. In time, she visited all of the Concentration and Death Camps, also his hometown Izbica and watched the movie, Escape From Sobibor being made in Yugoslavia. In the year 1983, she attended a war crimes trial in Hagen, Germany where Thomas was a witness to the crimes of SS Karl Frenzel, commandant of Sobibor, whom she interviewed during the trial and published “From Ordinary Man To Beast and Back Again.”
Presently, she is working on a new book, Two Vows, Two Missions: Memoir of a Holocaust Bystander, relating the influence of the Holocaust on herself, her marriage, children and grandchildren, as well as her views on the lessons taught by the Holocaust.
Below are some the projects, articles, interviews and travels she did alone and with Tom.
- The Brown Book—Article on turning sixteen, June 1942, this book influenced her to a lifelong interest in the Holocaust.
- “The Tea house Mass Murderer”—The story of Nazi Kurt Engels’ final days as a war criminal.
- “From Ordinary Man to Beast and Back Again”—Canadian Jewish News. Interview of SS Karl Frenzel in Hagen, Germany.
- “Sasha Pechersky”— Interview - Moscow, Russia 1983 with the leader of the Sobibor revolt; photos of Dena, Pechersky & wife.
- “Simon Wiesenthal-A Man with a Mission”; An interview with the Nazi hunter and family in Switzerland.
- “Encounter With Evil”— Reform Judaism Magazine – Joint interview (with Thomas Blatt) with Karl Frenzel, in Hagen, Germany.
- “Izbica 1980.” A visit to Thomas Blatt’s former ”stetle” and home.
- “A Walk in Sobibor”—A group is guided through Sobibor by Thomas Blatt.
- “Erasing Their Memory & Changing History”—An article about a monk and the church built at Sobibor.
- “Springtime in Sobibor”—A poem about ashes and cabbages and Sobibor.
- “What’s in a Color?” and “The Survivor’s Plea”– Poems about the Holocaust.
- “Still Trying to Understand”—A report on the first Holocaust Conference in L.A., published in Santa Barbara News and Review.
- “What’s It Got to Do With Us Today?” Article on Holocaust being relevant.
- “Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust”— Report on event in Washington, D,C, honoring Jewish resistance during Holocaust.
- “Triumph of the Human Spirit”—An article reporting on an event honoring the liberators.
- “The Unworthy to Live – The Gypsy Story”—Article by Thomas Blatt and Dena Blatt.
- “Soap From Human Fat – Evidence of a Nazi Crime”—article by Thomas Blatt, (edited by Dena Blatt).
PROJECTS ON THE HOLOCAUST, listed chronologically:
- June 1942, turning sixteen; The Brown Book in a small town library that changed her life.
- 1939 to 1945. Made scrap book on tiny reports of Nazi atrocities to Jews in back pages of the Winnipeg Free Press. After the war, given to museum, where it was subsequently lost.
- 1957 visited Yad Vashem in Israel. In 1958 married a child survivor of the death camp Sobibor.
- Late 60’s, for the Martyrs Memorial Museum of the Holocaust in Los Angeles, researched, wrote and narrated for a Map of all concentration and death camps in Poland and narrated for a model of Sobibor.
- Early 1970, attended the first Holocaust conference in Los Angeles and published a report in a Santa Barbara newspaper.
- Condensed Tom Blatt’s life story, titled “No Time For Tears”, which won first prize in a contest, published in The Santa Barbara News and Review.
- 1972, created a Holocaust exhibit for Goleta Library as part of a course at the University of California at Santa Barbara.
- 1975 organized a discussion group of PhD’s from UCSB in History, Sociology, and Religion for a forum on the Holocaust which took place in Bnai Brith Temple, Santa Barbara.
- 1980 narrated a documentary on the stetle of Izbica, Poland and one on Sobibor.
- 1981 interviewed Holocaust survivors informally at the first Israel and first Washington, D.C. conferences.
- 1982 visited all the concentration camps and death camps in Poland.
- 1983 lectured to a group of High School students in a town in Germany.
- Attended the first International Genocide Convention in Warsaw, Poland, speaking about the neglect and disrespect of the concentration and death camp sites – particularly Auschwitz and Sobibor.
- 1983 war crimes trial in Hagen, Germany, interviewed former SS man Karl Frenzel, commandant of Sobibor.
- 1983 interviewed Sasha Pechersky the leader of the Sobibor revolt, in Moscow, Russia.
- 1984 interviewed Simon Wiesenthal and his family, in Switzerland.
- 1987 attended the filming of “Escape from Sobibor” in Yugoslavia.
- 1990 attended a Holocaust conference of the Second Generation in Seattle, WA.
- 2005 and 2006 lectured to High School students in Anacortes and Seattle, WA.
- Collaborated on Thomas Blatt’s book From the Ashes of Sobibor (North Western University Press)
- Work in progress: a memoir titled: Two Vows, Two Missions: Memoir of a Holocaust Bystander.
Dena Blatt is available for lectures.
She gives talks to Junior High, High Schools and colleges on Tolerance for all races and religions through the use of stories and videos on the Holocaust.