Emotions Still Strong in Telling of Holocaust

Emotions Still Strong in Telling of Holocaust Survival
Posted on 02/09/2016
Miriam Rosenbaum / Holocaust presentation

The great-grandmother of two seventh-grade students recently spent more than an hour with three different groups of students recounting her fight for survival as a 14-year-old Jewish girl growing up in Poland.

Miriam Rosenbaum lived in Sosnowiec, Poland, when the Nazis occupied her town. She left school and took a factory job to avoid being sent off to a labor camp. Even though it’s been more than 50 years, the painful memories still bring tears to her eyes when she recounts how Nazis had barged into an apartment while she was babysitting her cousin’s two young sons and took the babies away.

Soon after, Miriam was deported to a work camp. She spent more than two years at the camp before it was liberated in the spring of 1945.  She never again saw her parents, two brothers, or a sister but was reunited briefly with another sister after the war, she said.

The students listened attentively and asked many questions as they applied her story to what they are learning in their study of the Holocaust and reading of the book “Night” by Elie Wiesel. One of the teacher organizers, Julie Buzza, shared that, inspired by Miriam’s heartfelt recount, “The students continued to question, even after the presentation: How could this have happened? How can we make sure it never happens again? How can we thank her for sharing?” 

Miriam’s daughter, Peggy Shapiro, was also present to answer questions. She is Midwest Director of Stand With Us, a non-profit organization that promotes understanding of Israel all over the world. Shapiro also became a friend of Wiesel’s by coordinating local visits for the author.

For Miriam, each time she shares her story, her emotions are stirred by the painful memories. But she feels it is her duty to stand as living testimony to the past. The May 4 presentation was the first time she spoke with her great-grandchildren, Dylan and Ryan Smith, in the room. “Every time I ask myself, ‘how am I going to do it?’ but I don’t have to study for it; it comes from the heart.”