Memphis Archives - StoryCorps

On The Day Their Concentration Camp Was Liberated, Two Former Prisoners Found Love

In 1945, the Allied forces arrived at the Theresienstadt concentration camp and liberated thousands of prisoners – many of whom were Jewish. The front gates swung open and anyone who was able wandered into the nearby town in search of food and clothing. But one woman, Mina Bergman, was sick with typhus, barefoot, and unable to walk. Mina’s sister set off, promising to bring back whatever she could find. She returned with Yehuda Czarnoczapka, who introduced himself and gave Mina a few potatoes and a pair of shoes he’d found. “I think the efforts he went through won her over,” said Susan Moinester.

Passports of Mina Czarnoczapka and Yehuda Czarnoczapka issued in a displaced persons camp in Linz, Austria, after their release. Photos courtesy of Susan Moinester.

Despite the trauma, her parents endured, and Susan remembers growing up in a home filled with love. Her mother had a particular thirst for life that remained unaffected by the war. She loved to attend parties, see Broadway performances, and encouraged her daughters to date and have fun. “That was the harshest demand she placed on me,” remembers Moinester.

Mina Czarnoczapka and Yehuda Czarnoczapka in a displaced persons camp in Linz, Austria in 1945. Photo courtesy of Susan Moinester.

Like many Holocaust survivors, Yehuda and Mina have passed away, but each year Susan and family honor their story of their liberation and enduring romance. Top photo: Margot and Susan Moinester in Memphis, Tennessee in 2022. Photo courtesy of Susan Moinester. This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Originally aired January 27, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

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Charlie Morris and Sylvester Lewis

In April, 1939, a young African American man was accused of stealing merchandise from a store in Tennessee. Shortly afterward, he was found dead in a nearby river.

That man’s name was Jessie Lee Bond. His death certificate says he drowned accidentally, but his family always maintained that after an argument with white shop owners, he was lynched — shot, castrated, and thrown in a river.

At StoryCorps, Charlie Morris (L), Jessie Lee’s brother, remembers the moment he learned what happened.

No one has ever been charged in Charlie’s brother’s death. But his story inspired a lawmaker in Tennessee to introduce a bill to the legislature that would create a task force to study unsolved civil rights crimes. That bill stalled in the state Senate.

Elmore Nickleberry and Taylor Rogers


Elmore Nickleberry and Taylor Rogers remember why they went on strike as Memphis sanitation workers in 1968.

Top photo: Elmore Nickleberry
Bottom photo: Taylor Rogers

George Turks and Charita Johnson-Burgess

Reverend George Turks, Jr. tells churchgoer Charita Johnson-Burgess (pictured above at left) about witnessing the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike as a teenager.

Ella Annette Owens and Lynn Reed

Ella Owens tells her daughter, Lynn Reed, about participating in a march during the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike.

Herbert J. Kneeland

Herb Kneeland (L) tells his son Martavius Jones about being a disc jockey at WDIA in Memphis on April 4, 1968.

Kathy Dean Evans

Kathy Dean Evans remembers the night Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

Rahsheed and Rhonetta McKenstry

Rahsheed McKenstry, 10, interviews his mother, Rhonetta, asking questions about her childhood, his father, and what type man she believes he will one day become.

Originally aired April 25, 2008, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Joe and Trudy Hunter

Joe recalls meeting Trudy, a Raelette, while working at a concert in Detroit. He fell for her instantly, but it wasn’t until several years later, when Joe became Ray Charles’s road manager, that he got to make his move. They eventually married in 1994.

The couple now lives in Memphis, Tenn. Joe Hunter became a minister in 2003 and serves as a school mentor. Trudy Hunter teaches vocal music at Stax Music Academy. The two are currently raising their 10-year-old nephew, Andrew.

Originally aired on February 12, 2008, on NPR’s News & Notes.