Survivor STORY

Bronia Poliwoda Merlin was born in Sosnowiec, Poland. Bronia was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1942. She is also a survivor of Ravensbruck. After liberation, Bronia and her husband emigrated to America. They built a new life in Jacksonville, Florida. Bronia moved to Atlanta to be near her daughter.
Coping

And after the war, when I came home, I don't want to live either. No food, no clothes, no a place what to stay, I couldn't find nobody. So I say, “For what I'm living? What kind of life is it? What I'm living? I don't want to live either." Just to have the courage, you know, to take poison and kill yourself. And I was always thinking, "I went so far - maybe, maybe, maybe tomorrow, maybe I find somebody

Finding Family

In the time, he say he find out that back in Germany, in some place, is a Red Cross, what the people live over there, what the alive, you know, and the Red Cross take care on them. And over there maybe is his wife; that's my sister. Because she was hiding, somebody hide her before liberation, three months before the liberation. So maybe she's still alive, and she's maybe over there. "So how you go back from Poland to Germany?" So he say, "Don't worry." He registered that we German Jews and we want to go back to Germany. And he put my name. He even took my girlfriend's name, that she go with us. And over there we find out, you see. He say, "Don't talk on the train. Don't talk,” he say, "Jewish, don't talk Polish. When they ask you, talk little bit German."

That we want to go back to Germany, because over there the Blue Cross was, after the war, you know, they make a big office, and they was holding the people still that they can find each other. And he find out that my sister's over there, his wife, what is alone, where she lives. I have on the picture. And he find out, so he say, "Wait a minute. I don't want to make her very much surprised, because she can faint. Of a suddenly, her husband and now sister came." He say, "You all stay in the back door." And my brother-in-law ask me, "You want to go first?" I say, "No, you the husband, you go first." And I stay in the back behind the door. She don't see me, and he went in. And was a, you can imagine. She find him, this was lovers from 16 years old. And she is younger than I am. And he, and she start to hug him and cry. "Oh you was," she say, "back in Poland. Did you find Bronia?" On me. "Did you find her? You came without her? She was young." And that and that. He say, "I got a surprise of you. Wait a minute." He open the door. He say, "Here is Bronia."

American Dream

They told me, they says, "America is a diamond world. People here don't wash dishes. They eat and they throwing the plates through the window." I don't know that's a paper plates. That the people's so rich. And I was sitting with my baby in the stroller in the park and a man came in and he ask for money. And I say, "In America poor people too? He wants money!" And I don't know. I couldn't talk English. You know, just later I tell to the other Jewish people, they saying, "America, money, rich!" I say, "Poor people, they come into the park, and ask for money." And he came just to me to give him money! I don't know, I don't know how to shop. They told me, "You don't have to talk English. You just take the buggy, go in the grocery, pick up what you want." "Let me see," she say, "eleven dollars." I don't know the language, eleven dollars. I took money and I show her and she took. She say, "Ok, ok."

Bronia Poliwoda Merlin