Byline: Ruth Gesmer Silverman Daily Herald Correspondent
Phones are ringing at the offices of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center as callers are begging for seats.
But there is only a waiting list.
For the first time in its history, the organization's annual Humanitarian Awards Dinner is sold out ahead of time, with 2,000 attendees expected to pack the ballroom Tuesday at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.
Organizers hope to raise more than $1.5 million toward the Illinois Holocaust Museum, now under construction in Skokie near the Edens Expressway, between Golf and Old Orchard roads. Operators of the museum, which they plan to open in 2008, have raised more than $25 million of the $40 million needed.
The dinner's planners attribute the response to the guest speaker, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and to the three area honorees.
Buffalo Grove resident and Auschwitz survivor Fritzie Fritzshall has been picked to introduce Albright at the event.
Both were Czech-born, but Albright's family fled to London in 1939. It wasn't until 1996 when Albright learned that three of her grandparents, who were Jewish, perished in the Holocaust. Fritzshall, meanwhile, was liberated and later emigrated to the United States, where she was reunited with her father, her only surviving relative.
"It's wonderful that our board, headed by Sam Harris (of Kildeer), and the committee, headed by J. …