StoryCorps: A Single Mom And The Story Of A Great-Aunt And The Holocaust When Dena Kohleriter was 36, she decided to start a family on her own. At StoryCorps with her daughter, Jori, Dena describes how her grandmother, a Holocaust survivor, responded to the news.
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A Single Mother And Her Child Continue A Circle Of Life Disrupted By The Nazis

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A Single Mother And Her Child Continue A Circle Of Life Disrupted By The Nazis

A Single Mother And Her Child Continue A Circle Of Life Disrupted By The Nazis

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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

NOEL KING, HOST:

All right. It's time now for StoryCorps. Dena Kohleriter always planned on having a family, but she couldn't find the right partner. So when she was 36, she decided to take matters into her own hands. She recently came to StoryCorps in Dallas with her 8-year-old daughter, Jori, to talk about what family means to them.

DENA KOHLERITER: What makes our family a little bit unique is that I decided that I wanted to have a child on my own when I wasn't married and I didn't have someone in my life at that time.

JORI KOHLERITER: I want to know, what did you feel when you decided to have me?

KOHLERITER: I had so many different emotions. At first, I was worried. Would I be able to do it? I was kind of scared if I would be able to have a kid on my own. And I worried about you. And would you be sad and feel like you missed out if it was just me? But then once I decided, it was just so clear to me that it was the right thing to do. And, you know, I gathered up all my courage, and I just did it. And then I was proud of myself for doing it. But I'm kind of wondering - I want to to ask you, is it hard for you to not have a dad?

JORI: Well, yes, it can be hard. Some of the questions can be kind of annoying.

KOHLERITER: Like what types of questions?

JORI: Like if I'm adopted or things like that.

KOHLERITER: Sometimes, it's hard to have to explain.

JORI: Mmm hmm, a lot of that time. I want to know, what was the best reaction when you decided to have me?

KOHLERITER: It was actually when I went and told my grandmother, your Grandbubby (ph). Your Grandbubby was 92 years old at the time. And she was a Holocaust survivor. And when I told her, what she said to me was, I'm thinking about my favorite aunt in the whole world, my Tate Roszi. And she was magical. And she didn't get married until she was older. And she finally had this beautiful baby, and the Nazis came, and they killed them. They wiped out my entire family in Austria. So I think that any time that our bloodline can continue is a slap in the face to those that would have seen us destroyed. So, yes, you have my full support.

And what she said to me, too - I'll never forget. She said, I don't know how long I've got. I promise you one year. And she gave us exactly one year, which meant that she was there when you were born. And for those three months that she was still alive and you were an infant, you had lunch with her once a week, where she would feed you your bottle, and she would snuggle with you. And she was so happy. And I remember that when we went to visit her in the hospital before she died and I was holding you - and she pointed at you, and then she pointed at herself. And she said, this is the circle.

KING: That was Dena Kohleriter and her daughter, Jori Kohleriter, at StoryCorps. Their conversation will be archived at the Library of Congress.

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