Survivor describes her journey from Holocaust
HANCOCK — In telling her story about surviving the Holocaust at Temple Jacob in Hancock on Sunday, Irene Miller’s harrowing journey started in Warsaw, Poland, and continued in getting smuggled across the closed Russian border.
After being rounded up by Russian authorities and sent to a Siberian labor camp, her family was then shipped to a tiny farming village in Uzbekistan.
Her father would roam the village looking for work. There was little to be had.
Her father died from dysentery after her mother spent the night wandering the village in search of penicillin.
Miller went to an orphanage for Jewish children. The sanitary conditions were awful. Children had their heads shaved to prevent lice. They got infested anyway. She still remembers the burning sensation.
She stayed in the orphanage until 1946. She remembers cultivating a love of reading there, picking up books in Polish and Russian.
She returned to Poland in 1946, spending another four to five years in orphanages.
Anti-Semitism after the war was still rampant. All of her extended family in Warsaw — more than 50 people — had been killed.
“The tiny, tiny Jewish community that was left tried to do everything possible for us children to survive,” she said.
In 1950, she moved with her mother to Israel. Her mother, frail since the Holocaust, died in her 50s.
Miller eventually moved to the United States at 21, not knowing any English. She eventually earned a master’s degree in social psychology and a master’s in business administration in hospital management.
After a long career in health care, she began speaking about her experiences during World War II a few years ago.
“We each have the responsibility do everything we can to make the world a little better for everyone,” she said.