The San Diego Holocaust Survivor Coalition 

San Diego is home to nearly 500 Holocaust Survivors, many who are outliving their resources and experiencing emerging and dynamic needs. They are at risk for poor physical and mental health, depression, and social isolation. They face challenges that can trigger memories of their traumatic experiences. After enduring one of the darkest periods in human history, we want to ensure they live comfortably and with dignity for the remaining years of their lives. Taking care of Holocaust survivors is not just the responsibility of any one organization, but the responsibility of our entire community.


The San Diego Holocaust Survivor Coalition is a collaboration of Jewish organizations, institutions, and individuals that are dedicated to providing Survivors with the respect and dignity they deserve. It is only together that we can address the complex needs of this vulnerable population and offer access to vital medical and food services, compassionate care, and the social embrace of our community.


Based on the belief that we can do far more together than any one of us can do alone, now is the time for us to renew and fulfill our promise to NEVER FORGET, NEVER AGAIN. As partners, we will work together to embrace the remaining Holocaust survivors in San Diego.


We invite every organization and individual to join us in this endeavor.  Why?  Because we are STRONGER TOGETHER.




How We Will Honor Survivors


The complexity of their situation requires a strategic, community-wide approach. The Jewish Federation of San Diego is proud to partner with Jewish Family Service and the Jewish Community Foundation to mobilize community resources, to activate volunteers, and elevate the level of care and connection for San Diego Survivors.

Once the most pressing needs are addressed, our goal is to implement a second phase of the project dedicated to honoring and preserving the memeories of Survivors through education, volunteerism, and remembrance.




The Life & Legacy of San Diego Survivors Project


This project is dedicated to preserving the memories and legacies of Holocaust Survivors who lived in San Diego. By highlighting individuals that experienced the atrocities of the Holocaust and then rebuilt their lives in San Diego, we are able to connect future generations to the lessons of the Holocaust.

It is our goal to add EVERY SURVIVOR who lived in San Diego to this book. We are seeking to connect with local Survivors and the families of those that have already passed. This book will be updated every time we receive a new story.

Submissions will capture brief descriptions of each Survivor’s location/journey during the war, their immigration story as it relates to San Diego and their family and words for future generations.

Please see a real life submission below.


Ben Midler — Coming Soon

Vera Lorell — Coming Soon

Mike & Manya Wallenfels — Coming Soon

Werner Dreifuss — Coming Soon

Meet Ben Midler

Given name: Bencion

Date of birth: June 27, 1928

Place of birth:  Bialystok, Poland

During the war Ben survived six concentration and labor camps: Majdanek, Bliszin, Auschwitz – Birknau, Sachsenhausen, Ohrdruf and Babelsberg.  Some of Ben’s Aunts and Uncles were lucky enough to move out of Poland before the war. Of those who remained in Poland, Ben was the only survivor of all his relatives.

Ben reunited with his three Aunts living in Chicago, Illinois. He worked as a foreman at Twin Oaks Dairy for 18 years and then left to purchase his own auto parts store.  For health reasons, he moved to San Diego in 1984, and he continued to work in auto parts.

Ben and his wife Esther have been happily married since 1951. They have 3 daughters, 6 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.


“Don’t let the experiences of the past define your future."  — Ben Midler, Survivor





Proud Partners