Survivor STORY

Myra Green was born in Serazc, Poland, near the city of Lodz, in 1922.

In the early years of the War, Myra, her two sisters, and her parents were confined to a ghetto. Myra was caught during an attempted escape, however she was able to convince a guard that she wasn’t Jewish due to her blond hair and blue eyes. She was subsequently separated from her family and sent to a different ghetto with a larger gentile population and less harsh living conditions.

In 1942, Myra was sent to Auschwitz, where, yet again, Myra’s fair features came to her aid: she was removed from a line of those selected to go the gas chambers, because she didn’t “look like a Jew”. Myra survived a year of near starvation, typhoid and other horrors in Auschwitz, before being sent to Stutthoff, another concentration camp. By the time of the Allied liberation, Myra and her sister Chaya, who now lives in Israel, were the only surviving members of their family.

Following the end of the war, Myra was placed in a displaced persons camp in Italy, where she met her future husband, Isadore (Israel), a shochet (kosher butcher), from Poland. Isadore was also a survivor of Auschwitz. Their first son, David, named after Myra’s father, was born in Milan.

The Green Family arrived in America in 1949, and were aided by the Jewish Federation in their relocation to a new home in Flint, Michigan. After a short time, they moved to Atlanta at the invitation of Myra’s cousin and settled in the Georgia Tech area. Here, the family prospered with the birth of two more sons. Again with the assistance of the Jewish Federation, they became the owners of a local grocery, Green’s Market, on Simpson Street, as well as some apartments in the neighborhood. Two other stores on the block were owned by Jewish proprietors [Max Bornstein and the Gross Family], and the Green’s found themselves members of a community in which blacks and Jews lived together as peaceful, yet somewhat disconnected, neighbors.

Myra’s story recounts her experience of various levels of tolerance by non-Jews of different cultures: the horrors of hatred in the ghettoes and concentration camps; the civility of the displaced persons camp under the Italians after the war; the mostly welcoming acceptance by many Americans. She recalls with appreciation the days in which, following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, her black neighbors rallied to protect the Green’s store amid civil unrest, in which some outcries placed blame on the Jews for Dr. King’s death.

Perhaps the source of Myra’s greatest pride and hope lies within her affection to her three sons and seven grandchildren. Her words about the past, present and future convey the strong sense of personal identity formed by both struggle and accomplishment.

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Myra Green