University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


Kay Bonner Nee

Kay Bonner Nee WWIII remember thinking, no one will believe this, I must take pictures. But my hands were shaking so, that I jammed the shutter and dropped the camera.

Kay Bonner Nee was an actress, writer and activist who served with the United Service Organization (USO) during World War II.  She was a witness to the Holocaust, as she was at Buchenwald with the 5th Corps of the First Army, Red Cross immediately after its liberation by U.S. Armed Forces on April 11, 1945.

Bonner recalled that she was “overcome with the horrible stench of still-burning flesh and hair, decaying bodies and unsanitary conditions.  I can remember thinking they can take photographs, they can write about Buchenwald, but it will be impossible to describe the terrible odor.”

Bonner first began to talk to the public about her experiences in the early 1980s after being invited to speak at a Holocaust memorial program.  She passed away on August 2, 2010 at the age of 90.

Source: Witnesses to the Holocaust: An Oral History.


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