From the Editors 29 (2011)Engineer and Editor Juan Hart Moved El Paso Forward 29 (2011)Elizabeth Garrett: Songbird of the Southwest 29 (2011)A Passionate Life: Josephine Clardy Fox 29 (2011)Forgotten No More: Korean War POW Tells Story of Survival 29 (2011)Janice Woods Windle Treasures Family History 29 (2011)Andy and Syd Cohen: The Men Behind the Name 29 (2011)Leona Ford Washington Preserved Black History 29(2011)Ingeborg Heuser Brought Professional Ballet to City 29 (2011)Lee and Beulah Moor Left Legacy of Love 29 (2011)
From the Editors 28 (2010)Chasin’ Away the Blues: Texas Sunday Legislation 28 (2010)Simeon Hart Pioneered Local Industry 28 (2010)Felix Martinez: Southwestern Renaissance Man 28 (2010)Teresa Urrea: La Santa de Cabora Inspired Mexican Revolution 28 (2010)Utopia in Mesilla: The Shalam Colony 28 (2010)Stahmann Farms Produce Pecans on Two Hemispheres 28 (2010)Betty Mary Goetting Brought Birth Control to El Paso 28 (2010)Maud Sullivan Made El Paso Public Library a Cultural Center 28 (2010)Lucy Acosta’s Legacy Continues in LULAC 28 (2010)Belen Robles: Voice for the Latino Community 28 (2010)Toltec Club: Of Ghosts and Guests 28 (2010)
Strong Women Building a Strong City -- From the Editors 27(2008)Notable Women of El Paso 27(2009)The Chew Legacy: The Story of Herlinda Wong Chew 27(2009)Desert Nightingale: Louise Dietrich 27(2009)1909-2009: YWCA Celebrates 100 Years in El Paso 27(2009)Mabel Welch: El Paso’s First Female Architect 27(2009)Myrna Deckert Remains Modest About Achievements 27(2009)Suzie Azar Still Reaches for the Sky 27 (2009)The Moocher: Callie Fairley, First Woman Vice Detective in El Paso 27(2009)Alicia R. Chacón Came to Politics Naturally 27 (2009)Rosa Guerrero: Cultural Dynamo 27 (2009)
From the Past to the Present -- From the Editor 26 (2007/08)Yandell Boulevard Named for Prominent El Paso Physician 26 (2007/08)Japanese Immigrants Came Slowly to Borderland 26 (2007/08)World War II Affected Japanese Immigrants 26 (2007/08)Living, Breathing New Mexico Ghost Town: Hillsboro 26 (2007/08)Canutillo Developed from Land Grant 26 (2007/08)Rómulo Escobar Zerman: Juárez Agronomist and Teacher 26 (2007/08)El Paso Mayor: Tom Lea Jr. 26 (2007/08)Ted Karam: Lebanese Immigrant Lived American Dream 26 (2007/08)Publication Credits 26 (2007/08)
From the Director 25 (2006)First El Paso Protestant Church: St. Clement's 25 (2006)Bowie High School: Always a Bear 25 (2006)Golden Gloves Grew Out of El Paso's Love of Boxing 25 (2006)LULAC Fought Hard to Guarantee Rights 25 (2006)El Paso Women Gained Power in LULAC 25 (2006)McKelligon Canyon: From Cattle to Culture 25 (2006)Tortugas Celebrates Virgen de Guadalupe, San Juan 25 (2006)Bataan Death March and POW Camps 25 (2006)Bataan Survivors Recall Horrors 25 (2006)Anthony Family Had Five Sons in World War II 25 (2006)Sober on the Border 25 (2006)Clyde W. Tombaugh: Farm Boy Reached for the Stars 25 (2006)A Taste of Southwest Wine 25 (2006)
From the Director 24 (2005)From the Editors 24 (2005)Gypsie Davenport and May Palmer Ran Infamous Brothels 24 (2005)Pioneer Attorney William Burges Tackled Unpopular Issues 24 (2005)Richard Fenner Burges: Renaissance Man 24 (2005)Charles Kelly Wielded Power with Political 'Ring' 24 (2005)Tom Charles Wanted World to Know White Sands 24 (2005)Dripping Springs has Rich History 24 (2005)Thomas B. White Directed Innovative La Tuna for 19 Years 24 (2005)Cowboys on the Range --- Missile Range, That Is 24 (2005)Ranchers vs. the Feds: The McNew Saga 24 (2005)Mexican Repatriation in 1930s 24 (2005)White House Department Store 24 (2005)Thomason Hospital Celebrates 90 Years 24 (2005)R.E. Thomason Shaped City, State, Nation 24 (2005)
Postcards from the Past Editor's Column 23 (2004)From the Editors 23 (2004)Solomon C. Schutz Helped Bring Law and Order to El Paso 23 (2004)James Gillett Showed Courage in El Paso 23 (2004)Jim White Explored Carlsbad Caverns for Years 23 (2004)Ben Lilly: Mountain Man of the Southwest 23 (2004)Aldo Leopold Proposed Land Ethics 23 (2004)Escontrias Ranch: A Link to Hueco Tanks Park 23 (2004)Hueco Tanks is Site of Controversy 23 (2004)Marcelino Serna Became World War I Hero 23 (2004)Sam Dreben Soldiered All Over the World 23 (2004)Kern Place Neighborhood: The Man Behind the Name 23 (2004)Farah Manufacturing Now Just a Memory 23 (2004)Texas Knights of Columbus Began in El Paso 23 (2004)
Look for Us on the Web - Editor's Column 22 (2003)From the Editors 22 (2003)Victorio Fought to the Death for Homeland 22 (2003)O. T. Bassett and Charles R. Morehead 22 (2003)S. H. Newman: Pioneer Newspaperman Fought Vice 22 (2003)Elfego Baca Lived More Than Nine Lives 22 (2003)Woman's Club Has Long Served City 22 (2003)Cathedral's Beauty Pleases 22 (2003)Albert J. Fountain's Achievements Eclipsed by Mysterious Death 22 (2003)Albert B. Fall's Career Ended in Disgrace 22 (2003)Cloudcroft Baby Sanatorium Saved Many 22 (2003)Dale Resler Worked Hard for El Paso 22 (2003)Price's Dairy Still Family Owned 22 (2003)Woodlawn Bottling Brought Pepsi to Town 22 (2003)Union Depot Witnessed Growth of El Paso 22 (2003)
We're Now on the Web --From the Editor 21(2002)From the Editors 21(2002)Downtown Opium Dens Attracted Many 21(2002)Juneteenth Celebrates Freedom for Texas Slaves 21(2002)Black Cowboys Rode the Trails, Too 21(2002)Ku Klux Klan Had Short Life in El Paso 21(2002)Mining Became Big Business in Southwest 21(2002)Smeltertown Still Exists in Memories 21 (2002)El Paso Played Important Role in the Mexican Revolution 21 (2002)Pancho Villa Led Northern Forces in Revolution 21 (2002)Soldaderas Played Important Roles in Revolution 21 (2002)Pershing, Villa Forever Linked to Columbus 21 (2002)Cristeros Became Mexican Martyrs 1926-1929 -- 21 (2002)Houchen Settlement House Helped New Arrivals 21 (2002)Otis A. Aultman Captured Border History in Pictures 21 (2002)
Hot Springs Have Long HistoryThe Building of a City -- From the Editor 20 (2001)From the Staff (Volume 20)Pat Garrett Enjoyed Controversy 20 (2001)Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire Terrorized Town 20 (2001)History Reveals Rivalry of Madams Etta Clark and Alice Abbott 20 (2001)Kohlberg, Krupp, Zielonka Became Business and Civic Leaders 20 (2001)Olga Kohlberg Pioneered Many Local Organizations 20 (2001)Henry Trost's Architectural Legacy Lives On 20 (2001)Sunset Heights Preserves History 20 (2001)Adolph Schwartz Built Local Retail Dynasty 20 (2001)Zach T. White Brought Progress to El Paso 20 (2001)Masons Became Leaders in Texas, El Paso 20 (2001)Smallpox Epidemic Showed Need for Hospitals20 (2001)El Paso High School Remains Classic 20 (2001)Bhutanese Architecture Distinguishes UTEP Campus 20 (2001)Elephant Butte Dam Solved Early Water Problems 20 (2001)
Pioneer Ranch became Concordia Cemetery 19 (2000)El Paso Grows Up 19 (2000)From the Staff 19 (2000)Chinese Immigrants Helped Build Railroad in El Paso 19 (2000)Volunteer Fire Department Grew into Professional Company 19 (2000)1880s Brought First Theaters to Town 19 (2000)Sisters of Charity Began Hotel Dieu Hospital 19 (2000)Tuberculosis Turned El Paso Into a Health Center 19 (2000)First Public School Built in 1884 19 (2000)Enigmatic Olivas Aoy Began School for Mexican Children 19 (2000)El Paso Public Library Began Modestly 19 (2000)Jesuits Continue to Influence Area 19 (2000)Sisters of Loretto Have Long Tradition in Southwest 19 (2000)Mormons Found Sanctuary in Mexico in 1880s 19 (2000)Mennonite Colonies in Mexico Accept Change Slowly 19 (2000)Flu Epidemic of 1918 Hit El Paso Hard 19 (2000)Early City Planners Saw Future in Scenic Drive 19 (2000)Prohibition Stimulated Economies of El Paso, Juárez 19 (2000)
The Editor's Column : The Building of a City 18 (1999)From the Editors 18 (1999)Magoffinsville Had Lasting Influence on El Paso 18 (1999)Town of El Paso Grew from Pioneer Settlements 18 (1999)Downtown El Paso Is Monument to Anson Mills 18 (1999)1848 War With Mexico Created Southwest 18 (1999)Colonel Doniphan and Volunteers Won Battle of Brazito 18 (1999)Gadsden Purchase Clarified U.S. Boundaries 18 (1999)Early Fort Bliss Occupied Pioneer Sites 18 (1999)Henry O. Flipper Paved Way for Integration of Military 18 (1999)Buffalo Soldiers Defended Western Frontier 18 (1999)El Paso Was Midpoint of Overland Mail Service 18 (1999)Salt War of 1877 Divided Southwest Residents 18 (1999)Geronimo Led Final Fight 18 (1999)Apache Indians Defended Homelands in Southwest 18 (1999)Texas Rangers Helped Keep Order on Frontier 18 (1999)Sarah Bowman and Tillie Howard: Madams of the 1800s 18 (1999)El Paso Grew Up with Arrival of Railroad 18 (1999)
Aztecs Ruled Complex, Rich Society 17 (1998)From the Editor 17 (1998)Aztec Beliefs Helped Conquer Mexico 17 (1998)Cortés Created New Order in Mexico 17 (1998)La Malinche Remains Controversial 17 (1998)Cabeza de Vaca: Travels in Texas 17 (1998)Estebán Furthered Legend of Cíbola 17 (1998)Coronado Searched for Cities of Gold 17 (1998)Oñate Conquered Desert to Explore Southwest 17 (1998)Festival Celebrates Oñate's Historic Arrival 17 (1998)Fray Garcia Left Great Legacy 17 (1998)Franciscans Brought Catholicism to Area 17 (1998)America's First Highway: El Camino Real 17 (1998)Pueblo Revolt Brought Tiguas South 17 (1998)Tigua Indians Survive 300 Years of Ordeals 17 (1998)Area Missions are Part of Living History 17 (1998)San Elizario Presidio Protected Settlers 17 (1998)Ethnic Terms Can Cause Confusion 17 (1998)
Oasis Restaurants Symbolized ‘50s Teen Scene 13 (1995)‘50s Cars Changed American Lifestyle And Image 13 (1995)Chevy Bel Air Charmed 1950 Car Buyers 13 (1995)San Jacinto Plaza Remains Heart Of Downtown El Paso 13 (1995)Smokey Bear: A Legend Is Made 13 (1995)El Paso's Company E Survivors Remember Rapido River Assaults 13 (1995)Company E Survivor Recalls Days As Prisoner Of War 13 (1995)El Paso Red Cross Essential to War Effort 13 (1995)World War II Took its Toll On The Home Front 13 (1995)Civil Air Patrol Protected Border During World War II -- 13 (1995)Quickie Divorces Granted in Juárez 13 (1995)Atomic Bomb Developed In Southwest 13 (1995)Former Crew Members On B-17s Remember Tough Times 13 (1995)Vintage Warplanes Keep Past Alive 13 (1995)The Cavalry Bugler: Essential To Horse and Man 13 (1995)Sun Carnival 1936 Style 13 (1995)H. Arthur Brown: El Paso Symphony Guru Of The ‘30s -- 13 (1995)Swing Music Helped Dispel The Blues Of The ‘30s and ‘40s -- 13 (1995)The General Store: A Hidden Treasure Of The Past 13 (1995)
Change on the Border 15 (1997)From the Editor 15 (1997)Latinos Work To Change Stereotypes In Hollywood 15 (1997)Cesar Chávez: Simple Man, People’s Hero 15 (1997)Shelter For Farm Workers Becomes Reality 15 (1997)Women’s Shelter Helps To Heal The Pain 15 (1997)Home Schools Become Popular Alternative 15 (1997)Renovation May Revive Downtown El Paso 15 (1997)Title IX Changed Women's Sports 15 (1997)Special Olympics Shine In El Paso 15 (1997)La Fe Clinic Serves South El Paso 15 (1997)ASARCO Works To Clean Up Its Act 15 (1997)A Growing Phenomenon: Single Fathers 15 (1997)Stepfamilies Become More Numerous 15 (1997)Teens Rebel Against Authority 15 (1997)Comics Retain Popularity 15 (1997)Tom Moore And Archie Have Timeless Appeal 15 (1997)
Life on the Border: 1950s & 1960s --14 (1996)From The Editors 14 (1996)A Baseball Team By Any Other Name 14 (1996)Drive-In Theaters Appealed to all Ages 14 (1996)El Paso Trolley First to Connect Two Nations 14 (1996)Barbie Doll Revolutionized Toy Industry 14 (1996)Rabies Took Bite of Sun City 14 (1996)Rabies: A Deadly Virus 14 (1996)Border Patrol Used Variety of Methods to Control Immigration 14 (1996)L. A. Nixon Fought Texas Voting Law 14 (1996)Douglass School Served Black Community Well 14 (1996)Thelma White Case Forced College Integration 14 (1996)Steve Crosno: An El Paso Original 14 (1996)Rock 'N' Roll Defined Teen Culture 14 (1996)A Shopping Mall by the People for the People 14 (1996)Chamizal Dispute Settled Peacefully 14 (1996)Turney Mansion Becomes Work of Art 14 (1996)First Hispanic Mayor Elected in 1957 -- 14 (1996)Flower Children Chose Alternative Lifestyle 14 (1996)
Three Decades of History 12 (1994)From the Editors 12 (1994)The Plaza Theater…Here to Stay!? 12 (1994)El Paso Broadcasting: The Stories Behind the Call Letters 12 (1994)Alphabet Agencies: FDR's Brainstorm 12 (1994)Chihuahuita in the 1930s: Tough Times in the Barrio 12 (1994)Hobo Sign Language Targeted El Paso 12 (1994)Self- Sufficiency Key to Farmers' Survival During Depression 12 (1994)Hanna's Story A Holocaust Survivor Remembers 12 (1994)Former Members Recall Life in Hitler Youth 12 (1994)German Prisoners of War Interned at Fort Bliss During World War II -- 12 (1994)German POWs Remembered at Fort Bliss 12 (1994)One German POW's Story 12 (1994)Ration Books and Victory Gardens: Coping with Shortages 12 (1994)Women Changed Wartime Work Patterns 12 (1994)Bracero Program Hurt Domestic Farm Workers 12 (1994)San Pedro Pharmacy Retains Look of the Past 12 (1994)Teenage Fashions of the Nifty Fifties 12 (1994)Rebel Image of Motorcyclists Set in 1950s -- 12 (1994)
Border Customs and Crafts From the Editor 10 (1992)From the Editors 10 (1992)King on the Mountain 10 (1992)Piñatas! 10 (1992)How to Play the Piñata Game 10 (1992)Out of a Cotton Boll Bloom Beautiful Crafts 10 (1992)Cotton Boll Entertains Too 10 (1992)Hands That Create Art and Soul 10 (1992)La Charreada - Mexican Horsemanship 10 (1992)Boots - A Family Tradition 10 (1992)Some Boys Still Grow Up to be Cowboys 10 (1992)Boot Capital of the World 10 (1992)The Magic of Mariachis 10 (1992)Ballet Folklorico - High School Style 10 (1992)New Generation of Mariachis 10 (1992)The Lady is a Bullfighter 10 (1992)The Midwife: Choices for Border Women 10 (1992)Retablos: Echoes of Faith 10 (1992)Tigua Indians: Dancing for St. Anthony 10 (1992)The Aztec and the Miracle 10 (1992)A Hispanic Girl's Coming of Age 10 (1992)Art - Low and Slow 10 (1992)Wedding Traditions on the Border 10 (1992)
Border Food Folkways From the Editor 9 (1991)From the Staff 9 (1991)Tortillas: Border Staff of Life 9 (1991)The Booming Tortilla Industry in Mexico 9 (1991)Where's The Beef? In El Paso! 9 (1991)How Do I Love Thee, Piggy? Let Me Count the Ways! 9 (1991)Tamales By Any Other Name Remain The Same 9 (1991)Rio Grande Thanksgiving 9 (1991)The Tigua Indians: Food for Thought 9 (1991)Corn: The Golden Gift from Our Ancestors 9 (1991)Border Pottery - Function and Beauty 9 (1991)Holy Hot Mole! 9 (1991)Looking Back at the Chile Pepper 9 (1991)Men Behind the Chile Pepper 9 (1991)Hot Peppers : They're Not Just for Eating 9 (1991)Food, Spices Double as Folk Cures 9 (1991)Weeds or Edible Desert Plants? 9 (1991)Cactus: It's Good for You! 9 (1991)Day of the Dead Celebrates Spiritual Tradition 9 (1991)Nutricious, Delicious Beans 9 (1991)Menudo Makes The Big Time 9 (1991)Mediterranean Cuisine: Old Tradition, Fresh Idea 9 (1991)Lenten Foods: From Fasting to Fabulous 9 (1991)Tarahumaras Rely on Nature for Food 9 (1991)Tempting Sweet Breads : Pan de Dulce 9 (1991)
Border Customs and Crafts II From the Editor -- 11 (1993)From the Editors 11 (1993)The Best Little Asaderos in Texas 11 (1993)Glass Work Disappearing on Border 11 (1993)Cockfights Legal in Surrounding Areas 11 (1993)Local Craftsmen Keep Art of Saddlery Alive 11 (1993)James and Joseph Magoffin: El Paso Pioneers 11 (1993)Chile Ristras Brighten Border Homes 11 (1993)Magoffin Home Preserves El Paso's Past 11 (1993)Bavarian Custom Celebrated in El Paso: Oktoberfest 11 (1993)Munich on the Border 11 (1993)Santo Niño de Atocha Called Miracle Worker 11 (1993)Lenten Customs Vary 11 (1993)To Ask is to Receive 11 (1993)Border Maintains Tradition of Posadas 11 (1993)A Visit from Three Kings 11 (1993)Matachines: Soldiers of the Virgin 11 (1993)Dichos Are an Intricate Part of Mexican Culture 11 (1993)Cultural Superstitions Affect Behavior 11 (1993)Que Onda Homeboy! Why Do We Talk Like This? 11 (1993)Traditional Hispanic Children's Games Disappear 11 (1993)
El Paso Women to ResearchEl Paso Women to Research (by name)El Paso Men to ResearchEl Paso Men to Research (by name)
From the Editors 30 (2012)From the Editor, Credits and Contents 30 (2012)Jessie Hawkins and Jenna Welch: Love, Loss and Laughter 30 (2012)Woodrow Wilson Bean: One in a Million 30 (2012)David L. Carrasco Gave Back to Hometown 30 (2012)Cleofas Calleros Made Local History Important 30 (2012)Robert E. McKee: From Rags to Riches to Philanthropy 30 (2012)Kate Moore Brown: A Woman of Many Firsts 30 (2012)Fun in the 1890s: The McGinty Club 30 (2012)
Borderlands Web Issue From the Editor 31(2013/14)Acknowledgements 31(2013/14)Mother Praxedes Carty: Serving God by Serving Others 31(2013/14)Carrie Tingley Hospital and the Couple Behind It 31 (2013/14)Harvey Girls Changed the West 31(2013/14)Jake Erlich: A Big Man in Many Ways 31(2013/14)Vernus Carey: Mr. YMCA 31(2013/14)
Borderlands 32 Tolerance. From the Editors and Acknowledgements 32(2014/15)Henry Kellen Created El Paso Holocaust Museum 32(2014/15)Bicycle Padre Still Working 32(2014/15)El Paso Connections: Ambrose Bierce: writer 32(2014/15)Mysterious Deaths: Bobby Fuller, Rock Icon 32(2014/15)Mysterious Deaths: Tom Ogle, Inventor 32(2014/15)Jake Erlich: A Big Man in Many Ways 32(2014)Harvey Girls Changed the West 32(2014)
Borderlands 33 Service. From the Editors and Acknowledgements 33(2015)Nothing Is Impossible: Major General Heidi V. Brown 33 (2015)Local Latino Soldiers Receive Medal of Honor Decades after Heroism 33 (2015)Vernus Carey: Mr. YMCA 33 (2015)Will the Real Leon Blevins Please stand up? 33 (2015)Carrie Tingley Hospital and the Couple Behind It 33 (2015)Mother Praxedes Carty: Serving God by Serving Others 33 (2015)
Borderlands 34 Inspiration. From the Editors and Acknowledgements 34(2016/17)Building Bridges Instead of Walls: Temple Mount Sinai 34 (2016/17)Ruben Salazar: A Bridge Between Two Societies 34 (2016/17)Luis Jimenez: Art Creates Dialogue 34 (2016/17)Richard "Tuff" Hedeman: The Michael Jordan of Professional Bull Riding 34 (2016/17)Rescue Mission of El Paso Provides Food and Opportunity 34 (2016/17)
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Henry Kellen Created El Paso Holocaust Museum

By Tabatha Lynn Fuson, Yvanna Vargas, Hilda Delgado and Isabel Hernandez

PDF Version

Henry KellenIn 1939, World War II began with Germany invading Poland. However, Jews in Germany had been restricted in many ways several years before. In 1934, Adolph Hitler had combined the offices of president and chancellor and had taken control of both state and military operations. In his quest to rid Germany of every Jew, Hitler would be responsible for a horrific event that some would later deny ever occurred: the Holocaust, as it became known, ended the lives of six million Jews and five million non-Jews. Some survived to tell the tale.

Hitler’s target populations lived miserably in districts known as ghettos. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website, these ghettos were enclosed communities where Jews were sent to be separated from non-Jews during World War II. The Germans created thousands of ghettos across Europe; the first was established in Poland in 1939. While the Jews were being held in ghettos, Hitler and his army were planning the “final solution” to exterminate the Jewish population.

Image caption:  Henry Kellen talks about his experiences in a concentration camp in World War II. (Photo courtesy of the El Paso Times Archive)

Camps were built for two purposes: forced labor and ultimately the extinction of the Jews. The first concentration camps that were established were in Germany after Hitler was appointed chancellor in 1933. More than 20,000 of these camps were established during the war.

Others that were sent to these camps were homosexuals, gypsies, Christians, the mentally and physically disabled, prisoners of war, political and religious dissidents and others whom Hitler considered as sub-human or non-Aryan. Millions would die from starvation, exhaustion, physical abuse and execution in camps.

Survivors of the camps had vivid memories of this event, but many maintained silence for years in order to try to find peace. Most suffered sleepless nights, nightmares and other physical and psychological manifestations caused by their unspeakable experiences.

Henry Kellen, founder of the El Paso Holocaust Museum and Study Center in El Paso, Texas, was one of the few who managed to escape from a camp and later migrate to America. Kellen, his wife and nephew were the only survivors in his family. His father, mother, sister, brother, uncles and cousins perished during the Holocaust.

Henry Kellen made it his moral obligation to let the world know about the Holocaust. He changed the hearts of El Pasoans and others through his experience and determination to survive by educating us about some of the horrors that World War II produced in Europe.

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According to the El Paso Holocaust Museum and Study Center, Kellen was born in Lodz, Poland, on July 5, 1915, as Heniek Kacenelenbogen. He had an older sister Sonia and brother Moniek. He received a mechanical and textile engineering degree from a French university in 1938. While he was in school, his family returned to Lithuania, where his parents had been born and where Kellen settled after graduation. Lithuania would be occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940 and overrun by the German Army in June 1941.

The Soviet Union began the destruction of normal Jewish life in Kovno (also known as Kaunas), the capital of Lithuania and the largest city, which had a highly intellectual Jewish community of 35,000 to 40,000, including one of Europe’s leading yeshivas. Jewish culture had flourished in Kovno with many organizations, schools, businesses and 40 synagogues. The Soviets abolished most of these institutions, arresting many Jews and sending others to Siberia, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum site.

When the Germans invaded the Soviet Union, violating their non-aggression pact, Soviet forces fled Kovno and pro-German Lithuanians began attacking and killing Jews, whom they blamed for the Soviet invasion. When the Nazis arrived in Kovno in June 1941, they greatly increased the restrictions limiting the freedom of Jews by forcing them to wear a yellow Star of David and to keep a 7 p.m. curfew. They were also prevented from attending their schools. The Germans began killing Jews in July 1941 in the forts that were built to defend the city. Kellen’s father was picked up on the street and shot. Things would get much worse within a few weeks, however.

In August 1941, the Nazis created the Kovno Ghetto, where about 30,000 Jews were transported from their homes and packed into crude houses with dirt floors and no running water or electricity. The Kacenelenbogen family was sent here, including Henry’s sister and nephew, who at that time were only visiting from Poland. It was in the ghetto that Henry Kellen married his wife Julia in 1941.

The entire family and other inmates became forced laborers. Everybody had a job. For example, Kellen’s mother and sister made uniforms for German soldiers at a factory while the males, including Kellen, built an airport.

“There was no gas installation in our camp. People were just shot. Or they died from malnutrition or disease. Of 30,000 inmates … only 2,500 survived,” Kellen told Becky Powers in the El Paso Times article “Surviving the Holocaust.”

Henry Kellen with hand over faceAccording to Kellen, one day, posters were put up in the camp asking for male college graduates to assemble at a certain place one morning to select books from the city library. For some reason, Kellen decided not to attend. “My brother went and never came back. After the war we learned they were all taken out and shot,” said Kellen in a video on the El Paso Holocaust Museum website.

Image caption:  Henry Kellen opens up about the Holocaust. (Photo courtesy of the El Paso Times Archive)

On Oct. 28, 1941, Kellen and the rest of the camp were told to assemble at a certain point in the camp. About 10,000 people were selected, and the next day Kellen watched as they marched uphill. All day long Kellen heard machine guns. In this “selection,” Kellen lost all of his cousins and uncles, as he explained in his interview with Powers.

In an El Paso Times article by Doug Pullen, Kellen explained that on March 27, 1944, the Nazis ordered all the children and the sick to be disposed of in the ghetto. He watched as German soldiers yanked babies from their mothers’ arms and tossed them into a truck. Kellen’s nephew, Jerry, was only eight years old, but because of malnutrition, he resembled a two-year-old child. Kellen’s sister hid Jerry behind a large pillow.

This “Kinder-Action” (Children’s Action) was one of the most brutal murders of hundreds of infants and children Kellen would see. His nephew survived, however. At this point, Kellen realized it was time to try to escape that horrendous place.

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While Kellen planned for a way to escape, his main concern was to hide his nephew and keep him alive. Meanwhile, a fellow prisoner, Yerachmiel Siniuk, had lost his arm working as a slave laborer at the same camp. Now disabled and unable to work, Siniuk knew the Germans would soon kill him. According to the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous website, while working outside the ghetto, Yerachmiel’s brother-in-law came upon a poor Lithuanian farmer, Andrius Urbonas, and begged him to hide Yerachmiel.

Urbonas agreed only if Yerachmiel was able to reach the farm, 10 miles away from the camp. Yerachmiel managed to escape and reached the farm where he was warmly welcomed by Andrius, his wife, Maria, his 20 ­year old daughter, Ona, and Juozas, his 14-year-old son.

The family made a place for Yerachmiel and fed him, even though they were extremely poor. When Yerachmiel returned to the ghetto, he came upon Kellen, whom he had known before the war. He then led Kellen, Julia and Jerry and another Jewish family of four to the Urbonas farm.

“Ona brought food each day to the now eight Jews in hiding. She also washed their clothes. Juozas and Andrius would bring them news from the front lines. At first the Jews hid in the barn, and then they moved to the house and were hidden in an earthen hole under a piece of furniture,” according to the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous website. Kellen, his wife and nephew and the others remained with the Urbonas family until they were liberated by the Soviet army on July 31, 1944.

Even though Kellen, Julia and Jerry managed to escape and hide, most were not so fortunate. Kellen’s mother and sister stayed at the camp and were later sent to another camp where they died of typhus and starvation, according to the article by Powers.

Eventually, Kellen returned to Kovno in search of his family, only to find that the camp had been burned down.  Everyone had been killed or sent elsewhere in order to hide evidence. A source indicates that Henry was able to find a letter from his sister that she had left for him at the camp. In the letter, his sister asked Kellen and Julia to watch over her son.

Photo of couple in 1946According to The Jewish Voice, newsletter for the Jewish Federation of El Paso, Henry Kellen was among the first Holocaust survivors to arrive in the United States on July 4, 1946, thanks to the work of Eleanor Roosevelt and President Harry Truman, who issued the first affidavits for displaced survivors. “El Paso was our destination because Julia had a sister, Olga Rosenberg, who arrived with her husband, Sam, to this country in 1929,” Kellen told Grace B. Ellowitz. “While being a witness of the most shameful and tragic history of mankind, I never shared with anybody the tragic history of the Holocaust. The Holocaust to me and Julia was a nightmare.”

Image caption: Julia and Henry Kellen walk on a Berlin street in 1946. (Photo courtesy of the El Paso Holocaust Museum and Study Center)

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Thus began a journey in a new country. Kellen and his small family now had a fresh start, a new life, all in another country. Even though things were tough emotionally, Kellen managed to move on and make his life as a Jewish citizen of El Paso. It was not easy to find a job, as he mentioned in The Jewish Voice. In fact, even his engineering diploma and the five European languages he spoke were of no use here in the Sun City. With the help of Emil Reisel, Kellen was able to establish himself.

Emil Reisel, a man who had foreseen Hitler’s rise to power in the late 1930s, arrived in the United States in 1935 with his wife Regina. By 1945, he was living in El Paso operating a wholesale warehouse, according to the book El Paso—The Wild West Welcomes Holocaust Survivors by Dr. Mimi R. Gladstein and Sylvia D. Cohen. Holocaust survivors that arrived in El Paso were directed to Emil Reisel. “Reisel’s main task was to find employment for the men among the refugees,” stated Gladstein, Reisel’s daughter.

In a personal interview with Isabel Hernandez, Gladstein stated that her father tried to help all Holocaust survivors. Most of the people he helped stayed in El Paso; the few that did not left mainly because they had made contact with family and decided to move with them. Gladstein also mentioned that she met Kellen when she was a young girl. Her father helped Kellen by offering him a job.

According to Gladstein and Cohen’s book, Reisel gave Kellen “two sample cases, a car, and a sales route that sent him out to remote towns such as Lovington, New Mexico, and Safford, Arizona.” Within some years, Kellen began to run his own business called the Hollywood Store for Men, a fashion store in downtown El Paso.

In the interview with Hernandez, Gladstein said that at the age of 14, she had begun to work for Kellen. Even though her father and Kellen had different businesses and had gone different ways, the two families remained good friends.

Gladstein said that she knew Kellen’s nephew, and they both attended El Paso High School, being about the same age. She added that Jerry was a “very sweet guy and smart, too.” He graduated in the top ten of his class, according to Gladstein, and he later attended San Diego University. Tragically, after surviving the Holocaust, he unexpectedly died in his sleep of a brain condition at the age of 27.

Gladstein recounted that her mother Regina was asked to help the women Holocaust survivors who came to El Paso without the slightest idea of how to function in America, such as how to buy groceries. Meanwhile, Gladstein and her sister were often asked to teach survivors how to read and write English. Gladstein said the irony of her life is that from teaching others English at such a young age, she became an English professor at the University of Texas at El Paso.

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The death of Emil Reisel took a toll on his family and on all of those who had received help from him. He had lived a very prosperous life, always wanting to help others. Gladstein added that upon her father’s death, the Kellen family was always there for Regina by accompanying her in her sorrow as well as attempting to lift up her spirits. The couple often visited Regina and took her out for lunch, always keeping an eye on her. Thus began a close relationship between the three individuals.

As great friends as they were, Gladstein noted that it was difficult for Kellen to talk about his past. El Paso had yet to discover the entire story of Kellen as a survivor of the Holocaust.

“For 33 years no one wanted to know what Henry Kellen had to tell them,” wrote El Paso Times writer Craig Phelon in a 1979 article. Some people began to believe that the Holocaust was all a lie. In fact, such denials in the form of pamphlets and books began occurring in the 1960s. In the mid-1970s, the number of these publications greatly increased. Two such examples were The Hoax of the Twentieth Century: The Case against the Presumed Extermination of European Jewry in 1976 by Arthur Butz and David Irving’s Hitler’s War in 1977. These denials broke Kellen’s silence.

He made it his duty to speak up, to let the world know, to educate everyone that this tragic event did happen and he was living proof of it. According to Phelon, Kellen’s story was not told publicly until he was interviewed for an El Paso Times story about the 1978 television series entitled Holocaust.

Holocaust survivors Benjamin Kandel, Z. Anthony Kruszewski and Henry Kellen each had a different story to tell the Times. The survivors had witnessed many atrocities during the Holocaust, even though they lived in different parts of Eastern Europe.

Kellen revealed in this article how he and the rest of the residents of Kaunas, Lithuania, were treated by the German soldiers who had invaded their home. “They told us we had 48 hours to bring everything of value from our houses … They were going to search the houses after 48 hours and if they found anything of value, the whole family would be shot.” One of Kellen’s neighbors was shot for forgetting one silver spoon in his house.

Most of the experiences Kellen described are gruesome and graphic; however, he made it his obligation to inform the younger generations that the Holocaust was an event that happened and must not be repeated.

Kellen and his wife had suffered from the Holocaust but also suffered remembering it. Another tragedy was the passing of their nephew. Even though they did not have any children of their own, they raised Jerry as their son. Gladstein mentioned in her interview that the Kellens had adopted a troubled child named Shaul Yannai from Israel. Kellen raised him and led him to attend the University of Texas at Austin. Shaul later departed back to Israel, where he lives on a kibbutz with his wife

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In 1983, Kellen retired from his business, the same year his wife Julia died. According to Gladstein and Cohen, Kellen asked the El Paso Jewish Federation for space in the Jewish Community Center to display some of the books and personal effects related to the Holocaust that he had collected. Soon his collection spilled over from one wall of the conference room to other areas of the room. Word got out and the numbers of visitors grew as Kellen began inviting schools, churches and the military to learn about the Holocaust. Thus, the first Holocaust museum was born in 1984.


Train Car in El Paso Holocaust MuseumKellen decided he would search for more evidence of the Holocaust. In 1989, he flew to Poland to find memorabilia from the camps in Europe. Most of the camps were burned down by the Germans in order to erase all evidence, but “the most notorious camps, Auschwitz and Maidanek, survived,” he told Ellowitz. Kellen returned with “important memorabilia.”

Image Caption: Train car display at the El Paso Holocaust Museum shows the way Holocaust victims were transported from camp to camp. (Photo by Isabel Hernandez)

Little by little, Kellen’s collection grew and the room gained more visitors each time he added something. By coincidence, as Kellen mentioned to Ellowitz, he came upon a Torah that was hidden by a Polish farmer. Apparently, a Jewish family in Warsaw asked the farmer to take care of it while they were in the camps, but they never went back for it. The same Torah is currently at the El Paso Holocaust Museum.

Such were the contributions Kellen was given that helped him in the creation of his first museum, which lasted for about 10 years. In those years, Kellen was surprised to have so many visitors in the limited space. People had to sit on the floor and on the conference table.

Needing clerical help, Kellen called upon Sylvia Deener Cohen, the senior adult director at the Jewish Community Center. Cohen and Kellen had known each other before since both of them had worked at Emil Reisel’s Rio Grande Sales Company, according to the book El Paso Holocaust Museum and Study Center. “By the time the El Paso Museum and Holocaust Center moved from its single conference room into a freestanding building in 1994, Sylvia Cohen had become its executive director.”

In the spring of 1994, the second museum was opened thanks to the generous donation of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Rosenbaum. Located at 401 Wallenberg Street, next door to the Jewish Community Center, this museum had a variety of daily visitors and grew quickly.

In an El Paso Times article titled “Holocaust Museum Continues to Expand,” Erika Witzke wrote that there was “additional audio expansion to the gassing area and oven-sight displays, replicas of the ‘showers’ and ovens in which millions of ‘undesirables’ were exterminated.” The museum even had a model of a train car used to transport camp prisoners from one place to another. And now it had realistic sound effects. Among the items Kellen had collected in his two trips to Poland were children’s shoes, human hair and shower heads.

The museum also contained many donated items from El Paso Holocaust survivors such as photos, clothing and the Torah that had been preserved by the farmer. Over 4,000 students visited the museum in the first year it opened, according to Witzke. By the end of 2001, more than 25,000 students were visiting the museum annually and there was still a waiting list. The new museum had its share of volunteers, some of whom were Holocaust survivors, and others who were recruited by Cohen to be docents of the museum.

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An interesting feature of the second El Paso Holocaust Museum was that it was designed to resemble a bunker. An image of the museum is shown in the book by Gladstein and Cohen. Another unique characteristic of the original building was that there was a small outdoor garden of cypress trees in honor of the Righteous Among the Nations, referring to a title bestowed by the state of Israel on non-Jews who rescued or helped Jews survive during the Holocaust, despite the danger to their own lives.

Tree of Life sculptureIn her interview with Hernandez, Gladstein explained that she had joined the Jewish Community Committee in order to help Kellen, who wanted to place the Urbonas family in the Righteous Among the Nations. Gladstein and her sister put together the extensive documentation necessary to have the family registered in the Righteous Among the Nations.

As Kellen became more involved with the museum, he was asked to make presentations at several schools. According to an article in the March 2008 issue of The Jewish Voice, Kellen made presentations at Cochise College in Douglas, Ariz., New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, Western University in Silver City and also at the University of Texas at El Paso. “I was even invited once to be a guest speaker of Remembrance Day to the Jewish Community of Albuquerque,” added Kellen.

Image caption: The Tree of Life sculpture in the museum asks visitors to “Remember the Children.” (Photo by Isabel Hernandez)

Even though he was doing great things with the museum, Kellen still had sleepless nights. “My mind was constantly occupied with the question which has no answer, ‘How [did] the perpetrators murder one and a half million precious Jewish children? Our children who might have been the future of the Jewish people … ’” Kellen said to Ellowitz. A question that indeed did not have an answer and at times caused him to question God in a way resulted in being one of his motivations to educate the public, especially children.

The museum was a remarkable place for local El Pasoans and out-of-towners to visit. But seven years after its opening the second museum burned down. “An electrical fire … wiped out 80 percent of the collection, forcing the collection to go mobile, traveling to area schools and institutions.” wrote Pullen.

It was not the time to give up, though. Kellen and supporters of the museum made it their ultimate goal to raise funds for another museum. Thanks to the efforts put forth by the community of El Paso and Henry Kellen’s determination, a new 5,000-square foot Holocaust Museum was built and opened on Jan. 27, 2008, in downtown El Paso. With its new location at 715 North Oregon Street, the museum was ready to bring in more visitors than ever.

Many of the displays were damaged or destroyed in the aforementioned fire, so a new museum had to be designed. However, there are a few items that survived the fire and can be seen at the present museum. The museum’s purpose is to teach the “Lessons of the Holocaust.” The museum’s tour is “a continuing effort to combat intolerance, hatred, inhumanity and indifference, the malevolent attitudes that made the horrors of the Holocaust possible,” according to Gladstein and Cohen.

With a new building and 4,100-square feet of exhibit space, the museum has a modern twist to its designs. The new galleries, videos and exhibits were developed by Mireles Creative, Inc., directed by Victor Mireles, the lead designer of the museum. Topics of permanent exhibits range from “Life in Europe Before the Nazis” to “Kristallnacht” to “Life in the Ghettos,” to “Transportation by Railcars to Camps” to “Liberation by Allied Forces,” and several others. All materials in the museum’s galleries are in both English and Spanish.

In addition to exhibit space, the building consists of staff offices, a gift shop, a more spacious and welcoming entryway and space for future exhibits. Unfortunately, there is not enough space on the property for the garden the second museum had. However, a mural honors the Righteous Among the Nations. It includes pictures and brief descriptions of experiences from people of many countries against a background of cypress trees.

Kellen said in an article that the main purpose for creating the museum was to commemorate his family and the rest who were not as fortunate as he to have survived the Holocaust. He also wanted to fight the claims that the Holocaust never occurred.

Kellen was indeed a very fortunate man to have survived the Holocaust and to have had the privilege to teach others about his story and the historic catastrophe. Another auspicious event for Kellen was to have found the Urbonas family. He described in an El Paso Times article how he had for years been looking for the Urbonas family to thank them. According to the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous website, Andrius Urbonas and his wife died in 1973. Juozas died in 2009. However, Kellen was able to meet with Ona, along with fellow survivor Yerachmiel Siniuk. Later, Kellen also met a granddaughter of the couple who saved him, Virginya, who married El Pasoan Barry Mann.

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Survivors of the Holocaust were liberated by Allied military troops. These “Liberators” were the soldiers who freed those in the concentration camps and they are honored as well with a mural in the El Paso Holocaust Museum. According to Gladstein and Cohen, the Museum’s first president, Albert Schwartz, former mayor Peter de Wetter and local artist Ernesto Martinez were local Liberators and are commemorated on a museum wall.

The final gallery includes a sanctuary and an area for meditation. This includes the Tree of Life sculpture, a photomontage of Anne Frank and memorial plaques. The memorial plaques contain words of wisdom from  Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Einstein, Elie Wiesel and Nicholas Winton.

The museum that now stands with pride on the corner of Oregon and Yandell Streets has daily visitors, from local students to tourists to soldiers and serious researchers of the Holocaust. As the museum continues to grow, changes and updates are always in progress.

In 2009, Mayor John Cook of El Paso awarded Kellen the Conquistador Award, the city’s highest achievement award, an honor given only to those who have made great contributions and dedications to the city.

Kellen outlived two wives, Julia, who died more than 30 years ago and Regina Reisel Kellen, who died almost six years ago on Sept. 18, 2008. After Julia’s death, Regina Reisel was there for Kellen, just as he was there for her when her husband, Emil Reisel, passed away. They eventually married. Gladstein, his stepdaughter, said in the interview with Hernandez, “Henry Kellen was a wonderful husband. He took great care of her; they had great times together.”

The El Paso Holocaust Museum and Study Center has made an impact on the El Paso community. It has presented many programs and events that have drawn thousands of visitors to further educate them on the Holocaust. Activities such as “The Memory Project,” a multimedia art installation at the museum, have presented the historic event from many different perspectives. The museum held its sixth annual summer camp for children June 16­20, 2014. “Tales of Courage” was the theme for the educational camp created for children ages 8 to 12. The museum’s Tour de Tolerance, now in its eighth year, offers bicycle races as well as a 5K walk/ run. The museum also sponsors a book club and hosted an educators’ conference on “Teaching the Holocaust” in May. Admission to the museum and parking are free, but donations are encouraged. It is open Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and closed Mondays.

As one of only 13 freestanding Holocaust Museums in our country, the El Paso Holocaust Museum and Study Center continues to expand to further educate the public. Said Gladstein: “El Paso is very fortunate that a man of Henry’s vision and commitment has brought into being this historical treasure for our community. The museum’s key mission is to preach against prejudice and discrimination.”

In the final gallery hang tablets with words of wisdom. One of them is inscribed with Elie Wiesel’s teaching: “Not to remember means to side with the executioners against its victims; Not to remember means to kill the victims a second time; Not to remember means to become an accomplice of the enemy. On the other hand, to remember means to feel compassion for the victims of all persecutions.”

Henry Kellen died on July 3, 2014, two days short of his 99th birthday as this article was being written. He had remained active in the museum he founded, participating in making decisions about its activities. He was remembered at a reception at the museum, attended by many who loved and respected this man who was determined that our world know the truth about the Holocaust and set about making it a reality. He is survived by his two stepdaughters, Mimi Gladstein and Holli Berry, his adopted son Shaul Yannai and an immeasurable legacy of compassion, education and activism.

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tags: biography

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