Mineral Point Middle School students were able to experience speaking directly to a Holocaust survivor, thanks to telepresence equipment connecting them with Ruth Mermelstein. This program was made possible through the Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center in Glen Clove, NY.
Ruth was born in Sighet, part of northern Transylvania in Romania, and was one of six siblings. In 1940 this area of Romania was given to Hungary, Germany’s ally. Soon after, racial laws were imposed stripping Jews of civil rights.
Jewish men were sent into forced labor and her father was sent to the Russian border. When the SS felt that these laborers were no longer useful, hundreds were locked into a building and it was set on fire. Ruth’s father escaped and made his way back to Sighet.
Ruth’s family was forced into a ghetto until they were sent to Auschwitz. She and her sister, Elisabeth, were the only family members to survive. Together they worked as slave laborers in Auschwitz and were then transported to another camp working at an ammunition factory in IG Farben. As the Russian army approached, Ruth was sent on a 5-week death march to Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp. On April 18, 1945 Ruth was liberated by British troops. Suffering from Tuberculosis, Ruth and her sister were transported to Sweden by the Red Cross. After several years in Sweden she met her husband, a survivor who lived in the U.S. They married and moved to the U.S.
“She left us with an inspiring message,’ said student Megan Toay. ‘If I can survive that, you can survive anything.'”