Brooklyn Holocaust survivor reflects on her experience for Holocaust Remembrance Day
Thursday evening at sundown marks the end of Yom HaShoah, the Jewish commemoration of the Holocaust.
As News 12 looks back at the horrifying atrocities that happened nearly eight decades ago, many say it’s important to remember the promise of “never again.”
A 77-year-old mark on 94-year-old Ruth Mermelstein’s arm is a lifelong reminder of something she could never forget.
She was born in Czechoslovakia to a family of eight siblings. At 16 years old, Mermelstein and her family were brought in cattle cars to Auschwitz. That was the last she ever saw them.
Mermelstein says that soon after beginning work in the concentration camps sorting through clothes, she discovered the fate of most of her loved ones. She says their last words were the ancient Jewish prayer, Shema Yisroel.
She reflected on her liberation by the Soviet Union and tells News 12 that she, her older sister and a cousin were the only survivors from her family.
After months of relocations in Europe, they arrived in Philadelphia.
Mermelstein says that shortly after arriving in Philadelphia, she met her husband Ernest, also a Holocaust survivor. They got married and moved to New York.
Mermelstein’s Midwood home is full of photos and written on top of one of the walls is the Hebrew word “hai,” which means life.
With three children, 12 grandchildren, more than 50 great-grandchildren and a glint in her eye, Mermelstein calls them her revenge.
Activists say it’s important to remember this nightmare in human history, especially firsthand from the survivors themselves while they are still around to tell their story.