27 Oct 2011 (All day)
Miriam, still known as Romka at that point, was an only child. She was born in Lviv, Poland, after her father finished his studies in Vienna. Together as a family they moved to Dubno, where Miriam went to school.
She was about 15 when the German army entered Poland from the West, but since the town of Dubno was in the East, the Jewish families there did not understand fully what was going on and what would await them. The Nazis would take all the women and girls to clean homes and buildings they wanted to take over.
“At that point none of us knew people were being put in ghettos,” Miriam recalls. “After two months of hard work, with yellow stars placed on our arms to be easily spotted as Jews, we were told to pack up and move out with one suitcase.”
All Jews brought to the ghetto were split between the right side, from where they were taken to work every day, and the left side, where the elderly, the sick and children stayed. Miriam, together with her mother, was put in the right wing of the ghetto. Every morning they were forced to work, receiving just two slices of bread to sustain them till the following morning.
Soon the Nazis started executing people housed on the left side. Every day, armed soldiers came to pick up those that seemed the weakest. Miriam and her family knew their end was near, so she decided to run. With her parents’ approval, after getting a fake passport with a false name, Miriam fled with just the clothes on her back.
One morning she left the ghetto with everyone else, but never arrived at her work station.
That night Miriam never returned to the ghetto. It was the last time she saw her family. She went straight to a train station and with her false identity took one train after another to get as far from the ghettos and camps as possible. With no information boards or enough knowledge about geography, Miriam has crossed through six countries unaware of her location. She spoke Polish, Russian and a little bit of German, which helped her move around with little trouble. People were kind enough to feed her, sometimes they would let her sleep on their property. However life was never easy.
By God’s grace Miriam eventually reached Romania, and from there she made it home to Israel in 1944. Following this very difficult part of her life, she came to the land of her people in order to establish a normal home. She got married and worked at a kibbutz, but years have passed until Miriam could finally feel safe and content.
After her husband’s passing, in December 2008 over the Hanukkah holidays, Miriam found out about the Home for Holocaust for Survivors in Haifa. She says that was her Hanukkah miracle. At the home she feels loved and cared for.
Today Miriam is able to look back and retell her story. Young Israeli students helped her track down her path, as she was running for her life in Europe. They helped her draw a map of all the places she still remembered.
She remembers everything very well. “I will soon be 90,” Miriam says. “I have lost a lot in life, but God let me keep my head.” She loves meeting with children from local schools, with IDF soldiers, and with students. As survivors, this is how they remember their families who did not survive this most dreadful part of Jewish history.