Miriam Korber: November 4, 1941

Miriam Korber made the first entry in her new diary on November 4th, 1941. The notebook into which she wrote the entries had been a gift from a friend and Miriam had originally intended to use it for writing poetry. Unfortunately for her, in the three weeks preceding November 4th, her life had been turned upside down. She and her family had been deported from their home in an anti-Jewish action carried out by the Romanian government. Romania was allied with Nazi Germany during World War II. Some of the other countries that sided with Germany turned their Jews over to the Nazis, but Romania carried out the persecution on its own. Miriam recorded the results in her diary.

The Korbers were forced to leave their hometown of Câmpulung on October 12th. After a perilous journey she arrived in Djurin, Transnistria on November 4th. As soon as she could, she began to record the events she had just experienced. “Four weeks ago this Thursday, at nine-thirty in the evening, Dad came home with the terrible news of the evacuation. But nothing was for certain. On Friday people heard that we would be evacuated on Sunday. And so, the fever of evacuation set in. Crying, gloom, packing, boiling, everything in disarray. We did not realize what the future had in store for us. On Saturday, the shops were closed and so people started to sell their things clandestinely and give them away. Just like scavengers, peasants, city dwellers, neighbors, and strangers pounced on us and in one morning we emptied the house of the most beautiful things.” Miriam also wrote that there were other rumors to the effect that the evacuations had been cancelled. No one was certain what to believe. Still, they prepared, just in case. She went on to write, “We had finished packing but we packed as if we were going on a trip. We could not imagine that they could have uprooted us entirely from our homes. In the evening we went to bed and until tonight this would be the last time we went to sleep in a bed. On Sunday, at six in the morning, we found out that we were leaving. We started to realize the atrocity that had been inflicted upon us. But we could not even begin to imagine what we would live through; who could have such a dark imagination?”

Miriam’s first diary entry perfectly captured the sense of chaos, confusion, betrayal and despair that generally accompanied deportations. Despite of the obvious disaster of being uprooted, people usually found the experience to be much worse than they had expected. It took time for the shock to wear off and the fullness of the loss and suffering to set in. Sadly for Miriam and her family, their long ordeal was just beginning. Although she would ultimately survive, many of her extended family members would not be so fortunate.

You may read excerpts from Miriam Korber’s diary in Salvaged Pages: Young Writers’ Diaries of the Holocaust by Alexandra Zapruder.

You may read about how the crimes of the Holocaust were carried out in Romania here.

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