KUCI 88.9fm

KUCI 88.9fm
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Sunday, December 1, 2019

12/2/19 @9:30am pst - Pieter Kohnstam joined host Janeane Bernstein live on KUCI 88.9fm to talk about his book, A Chance to Live, based on a memoir of Pieter's father and their escape from Nazi persecution; this is a powerful story of struggle, determination and survival. Pieter will also talk about his childhood friendship with Anne Frank (she was his babysitter and playmate) and how he is related to Janeane! Live on KUCI 88.9fm - streaming www.kuci.org


LISTEN to today's show
with special guest Pieter Kohnstam

As a small boy, Pieter Kohnstam lived with his parents in an apartment in Amsterdam during World War II. By coincidence, one of their neighbors was the Frank family, including Anne Frank, who became Pieter's sometime babysitter and playmate. When the Nazis occupied The Netherlands, the Frank family went into hiding, but the Kohnstams decided to flee. They made their way across Belgium and France, crossing the Pyrenees to Spain in a year-long journey filled with dangerous border crossings, and miraculous escapes. They spent the nights sleeping under bushes and trees, and hiding in barns, hotels, a bordello, and the homes of strangers from all walks of life, both Christian and Jewish, who took them in and helped them. The Bishop of Barcelona interceded personally to make it possible for them to travel by ship to Argentina. Based on a memoir of Pieter's father, Hans Kohnstam, "A Chance to Live" is a gripping tale of struggle, determination and survival during the Holocaust, chronicling what is best about people, and affirming that we are, after all, one human family. With a new Appendix describing Hans Kohnstam's subsequent life as an artst in Munich Germany




ABOUT PIETER KOHNSTAM
Pieter Kohnstam was born in Amsterdam in 1936. His parents, Hans and Ruth Kohnstam, were forced to flee from the Nuremberg/Fuerth area in Germany to Amsterdam, The Netherlands during the early days of the Nazi regime. Coming from a well-known upper middle class family, they left behind a lucrative toy merchandising company with sales offices and warehouses in cities throughout Germany and Europe.

It was by chance that the Kohnstam's apartment in Amsterdam was downstairs from the family of Anne Frank. Ruth became a close friend of Edith Frank, and Anne, the youngest daughter, became Pieter’s babysitter. Both children attended the local schools in the neighborhood.

When Nazi persecution of Jews in The Netherlands became intolerable, the Franks went into hiding, but Pieter’s parents decided to flee Amsterdam. After a year-long trek through Belgium, France and Spain, they reached safety and freedom in Argentina.

Pieter’s father Hans, an artist, eventually returned to Germany with his second wife. Over 1,200 of his paintings and drawings have been donated to the City Museum of the City of Munich, Germany. His mother, Ruth, also remarried and became active in social and cultural affairs and eventually helped found the United Nations Women’s Organization in Argentina.

Following high school, Pieter embarked on a career in international banking. A knack for languages and specialization in foreign exchange led him to a three-year internship with Swiss banking institutions in Switzerland.

In 1963, Pieter immigrated to the United States where he pursued a career in the specialty chemical industry, focusing on pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. He became a U.S. citizen in 1968. He and his wife, Susan, married in 1965 and have two children and three grandchildren. Now retired in Venice, Florida, Kohnstam is active in community affairs. He is the past President of the Jewish Congregation of Venice. He is frequently invited to schools and various organizations to speak about his experiences as a Holocaust survivor, his book, and matters relating to Jewish and interfaith topics.

Pieter's book was published in The Netherlands in February 2008 and in Germany in 2016.

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