Born: June 7, 1928
Herman was the fourth of eight children born to a religious Jewish family in the small town of Sirma, located near the city of Sevlus. The Kleins had a small plot of land, which they farmed, and they also ran a shoe shop. At age four Herman began attending religious school. When he started public elementary school, he continued his religious lessons in the afternoons.
1933-39: In March 1939, the region of Czechoslovakia in which Herman lived was annexed to Hungary. His teacher at school was replaced by a Hungarian and Hungarian became the official language. Except for Jews, all the students joined the pro-Nazi youth group "Levente." While the group marched and trained in military drills with wooden guns, Jewish students would get sent outside to clean the yard.
1940-45: When Herman was 16 his family was deported to Auschwitz. Separated from his mother and sisters, he was placed in an all-male barracks. One day, Herman and a neighbor from his hometown were looking across the barbed-wire fence. Herman asked him, "What are all those white trees thrown on top of one another?" "They're not trees," he said, "they're people. Don't you see the crematorium? Can't you smell the people burning?" After a week in Auschwitz, Herman, his father and his brother were deported to a labor camp built in the ruins of the Warsaw ghetto.