Miriam Korber was a young Jewish girl from Romania, a country that had a long history of anti-Semitism. To make matters worse, during World War II, Romania became an ally of Nazi Germany and its government implemented anti-Jewish laws and policies of its own. In October 1941, the Romanian government began to deport Jews from Miriam’s region to a ghetto area in the city of Djurin in Transnistria. This location had been part of Ukraine, but was administered by Romania after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941. Miriam began keeping a diary shortly after arriving in Djurin. As an eighteen year-old writer, she brought a young adult perspective to her observations about her new situation.
On December 26, 1941, less than two months after her arrival, Miriam was contemplating the desperation of her new circumstances. She wrote, “Will we be able to survive these times? Everyone asks himself these questions, including me. Will we have the strength to get over this hardship? We manage to eat somehow, and still, everyone looks bad. … And it gets ever colder. And still, supposedly it can get even colder here. … Dad is nervous, Mom is nervous, we don’t make any money and the money we have is just disappearing… It is two in the afternoon. It is cold in the room and I don’t know how we will resist until evening without a fire. Firewood is so expensive. I can see on everyone’s face the fear of tomorrow. What will happen?” The coming of a harsh winter was only one of the problems facing Miriam. Unemployment and the dwindling of her family’s savings worried her as well. These problems made the near future look very bleak indeed. She was completely serious when she wondered if they would be able to survive.
Miriam and her immediate family did manage to survive the Holocaust, though many other Romanian Jews were not so fortunate. She was able to eventually return home and resume her education. In spite of everything she had gone through, she realized her childhood dream of becoming a doctor.
Miriam Korber’s diary was included in a book entitled, “Salvaged Pages: Young Writers’ Diaries of the Holocaust”, edited by Alexandra Zapruder. You may learn more about the Holocaust in Romania here.
The story of the Romanian government’s involvement in the Holocaust is not as well known as it needs to be. You may read about some of the difficulties involved in remembering this history here.
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