Miriam Korber and her family had already experienced much loss by the spring of 1942. They had been deported from their home in Romania about six months earlier. They were sent to a ghetto in the Transnistria region where the winter had been bitter and the people had suffered greatly due to the cold, lack of basic supplies, and poor sanitary conditions. To make matters worse, in February Miriam received news that her grandparents had died.
Under circumstances such as these, it is common for people to seek comfort in activities that are special to them. For example, Miriam began keeping a diary when she first entered the ghetto. It is possible that writing gave her some solace. Miriam’s father may have sought the same in prayer. Unfortunately, circumstances made this difficult. On May 19 1942, Miriam wrote, “It is seven in the morning. Dad gets up early, he goes in search of a place to say the Kaddish, but even for this there is no room – we are forbidden to go to the synagogue (because of the diseases, but people no longer want to get together, either, for the same reason). … In the past few days there is talk that we will be driven farther away, toward the Bug River. This will be the end, for sure, I think. Isn’t it enough that so many are dying and dead already: forced to march on, I believe, even the strongest among us would no longer make it. How hard it is to survive everything anyway.”
The harsh conditions and dread of an even worse future had been imposed on the Korbers and their fellow Jews, not by the Nazis, but by the Romanian government. Romania became an ally of Nazi Germany during the World War II era, but this alone does not explain its eagerness to enact antisemitic measures. In fact, other allies of Germany did not treat Jews as badly as the Nazis did. Only Romania, under its fascist Iron Guard leadership, went as far to persecute and murder Jews on its own.
Miriam Korber’s diary was included in a book entitled, , 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.
November 6, 2014 at 6:00 PM
FORUM:In order to understand racism we must learn about hatred and redemption
November 9, 2014 at 4:00 PM
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November 12, 2014 at 7:00 PM
PANEL:How to we decide who “doesn’t belong”? What people are we likely to exclude? Why?…
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