In December, 1976, during a college break, Karen learned that her mother, Erika Stefanie Turkl (Neumann) was Jewish. This discovery marked the beginning of Karen’s insatiable curiosity about her mother’s family history and the start of a 45+ year journey to uncover her mother’s past.
Karen began interviewing surviving relatives who would describe what they knew of the family history and armed with this information, she sought out organizations that provided answers and more leads and about the Turkl/Placzek family history.
In 2005, researchers in Brno, CZ, contacted Karen to tell her that her mother, Erika Turkl, and her aunt, Daisy Turkl, were kindertransports during WWII. Their names were on a list and it was unknown what had happened to the two girls. The researchers recommended that Karen contact the organization to update the information about Erika and Daisy and when she did, she learned that her mother and aunt were survivors from Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia and in 1939, they were sent to England, on a train, with other Jewish children.
Nicholas Winton was the British stockbroker who was responsible for arranging the Kinder transports of 669 Czechoslovakian Jewish children in 1939. Erika and Daisy Turkl were 2 of the 669 “Winton’s children”. In 2009, during a reenactment of the Winton Kindertransport from Prague to London, Karen and her son, Max were able to meet 100 year old Nicholas Winton and personally thank him for saving Erika’s and Daisy’s lives.
In the summer of 2019, Karen traveled to Brno and Prague, CZ, and to Cornwall, England to finally take the necessary time to research her mother’s past. She spent 3 months working in archives, meeting with experts from the Jewish Museum of Prague and traveling to Terezin and Boskovice, Alexovice and other towns, to trace her mother’s 1939 journey from her home to England.
When Karen returned in the Fall of 2019, she knew that she needed to work full-time on the project. She decided to retire from her school administrator’s position and dedicate her time, effort, and finances to researching the family history.
Jeffery Gary, a documentary filmmaker, learned of Karen’s project and offered to interview/film her to record her recent research trip “while it was still fresh in her mind.” During the first 2 sessions of filming, Jeffery realized that the story of Karen’s mother’s family had all the components of a documentary film and he suggested that she consider telling the story on film first instead of writing a book -- which she had originally planned to do.
“Letters From Brno” is the documentary film that tells the story about Erika Turkl’s family before the Nazi’s invaded Czechoslovakia and how she and her sister, Daisy, were able to survive the Holocaust. Currently, the film is in post production with an estimated date of completion in the Fall of 2021.
While filming the documentary, Karen imagined how this story could be part of a curricula for Holocaust education. She began exploring current content of Holocaust education organizations and took courses and attended lectures and webinars. She shared her dream of creating this curricula with her sister, Tracey. And Tracey said she wanted to help.
In March 2021, Transports to Truth (TTT), an education nonprofit, was incorporated to provide both organizational and financial support to achieve Karen’s dream of sharing her mother’s family history through Holocaust curricula. Transports To Truth is a small and mighty 501(c)(3) nonprofit, with a six member dedicated and enthusiastic Board of Directors.
Please see "Our Board" for more information about us.
Please see “Letters From Brno” for more information about the documentary.