The story of Charleston resident Kaethe Wells and her family, recounted largely in letters between her father and Julius Hess, is told in the book “And the World Closed Its Doors: The Story of One Family

By Chelsea McCoy
Buffalo High School

When people think of the Holocaust, images of mass graves, starved and emaciated people, and cattle trains bringing innocent men, women, and children to their deaths may come to mind. Rarely do people think of its survivors, the ones who lived to tell about the horrors of the Holocaust and its concentration camps.

These people, these survivors, are heroes. And Kaethe Wells, an 83-year-old Charleston resident, is one of them.

Recently, Wells spoke to Buffalo High School students about how she survived the Holocaust through the help of friends and strangers alike. She talked of the hardships before and after the Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), of how her father died in Auschwitz and how she, her mother and her sister were sent to a forced-labor camp. After liberation, Wells immigrated to the United States to live with relatives in Charleston.