Monday, July 31, 2017

CVGS Program Review - "Try to Remember -- Never Forget"

We had 42 attendees at our Saturday program meeting on 29 July, including 12 guests.  

They came to hear the testimony of Ruth Goldschiedova Sax, now age 89, a Holocaust survivor who was a longtime Chula Vista resident, and now lives at Paradise Village in National City.  Ruth's daughter, Sandra (Sax) Scheller, has written a book about Ruth's life titled "Try to Remember -- Never Forget."

Ruth's life story includes a happy childhood in Brno, Czechoslovakia with her parents Oskar and Erna Goldschmied; the Nazi occupation starting in 1939; transportation to three different Nazi work and concentration camps; suffering and surviving unspeakable indignities at the camps; liberation and walking over 100 km back to her home town with her mother; finding that her father also survived the camps; rebuilding their lives in Brno; corresponding with a distant cousin, Kurt Sax, who went to America before the war,; marrying Kurt and coming to America in about 1950; settling in San Diego and starting a family, and living happily for over 60 years.  

Ruth's testimony mainly concerned her experiences from age 11 when her world of education and culture fell apart in March 1939 when the Germans invaded Czechoslovakia.  In 1941, the family was transported to Theresienstadt, a work camp where Ruth was forced to grow up quickly.  She was shaved to prevent lice infestation, wrapped her feet in paper to keep them warm in the winter time, and witnessed the death of many other people.  Her father Oskar was separated from them, and Ruth and her mother to the Terezin camp, and then to Auschwitz.  She faced Dr. Mengele's "live or die" judgment six times.  Near the end of the war, she was in the Oederan camp and made bullets for the Germans.  Finally she and her mother were liberated by the Russian Army, and reunited with her father, a miracle in itself.

Sandra showed and described the dress that Erna wore throughout the camps, a shift with a chalk X and a vertical stripe on the back.  Every week, she would have to bend over and the X and stripe were painted on it again by the Nazis.  

Sandra presented a slide show of Ruth's life - from childhood through reuniting with her father to her life in the San Diego area.  Sandy showed several records from the concentration camps, and found her parents' love letters over several years before their marriage (more than 1,000 of them!), and showed many photographs from the family's life in San Diego.  Today, Ruth and Sandra give presentations about Ruth's life, and are working on a second book about her life.  

Sharing this story is a reminder to the world that the Holocaust actually happened and that all of us must act diligently to ensure that this type of atrocity never happens again.  Ruth's is an incredible and inspirational story of horror, survival, recovery, love, family, and success.

A personal note:  Ruth and Kurt Sax were Randy and Linda Seaver's neighbors from 1975 to 2012, when they went into an assisted living facility.  Kurt died in May 2012.  We enjoyed sharing our lives, and many meals, with them.  They are the most positive, loving, kind, polite, generous and happy people we've ever known.

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