Survivor STORY

Born in Josefow, Poland, Eve Finkelsztajn Silver grew up in Hrubieszow, near Lublin. She was admitted into a Polish gymnasium, or high school, at the young age of ten, which was an extraordinary accomplishment and an unusual choice for a girl from a Hasidic family. In October, 1942, Eve's family went into hiding the day before the Jews of her town were to be rounded up by the notorious Battalion 101. They presumed that she would find safety with her boyfriend; however, he had mistakenly assumed that she would hide with her family, so he was not able to help her.

Not knowing what else to do and alone after curfew, Eve ran to the railroad station, throwing her armband and identity papers into the river on her way. She miraculously avoided arrest and arrived in Lublin, where she was picked up by a cell of the Polish Underground, which provided her with false identity papers.

Eve spent the rest of the war associated with the Underground. As she has written about those desperate times, "If I were caught and shot on the spot it would certainly be a lot better than to be transported for no understandable reason to a concentration camp. Undertaking occasionally small, dangerous errands for some of the underground groups was a spiritual uplift."

After the war, Eve was chosen to receive a scholarship offered by B'nai B'rith to attend Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, where she arrived in 1947. After her children were grown, Eve earned a journalism degree from Georgia State University and has written guest columns, book reviews and poetry published in the local press.

Eve and her husband, Max Silver, now both deceased, had three children.

Life and Survival in Europe
Pretty soon I went up to the American government occupation office and the U.N.R.R.A. You know what the U.N.R.R.A. is? The U.N.R.R.A. officers came and we drove out to Mauthausen and we drove out to other camps, and I was supposed to interpret as best as I could. My English wasn't really that good but, I don't know how I did it. And that was my work for the American government. I mean that - and about, I don't know when that happened, about three to four months later, somebody passed through this office that I was working for at, for the American government, the U.N.R.R.A., whichever it was - I have a lot of letters from that - and said, "Your mother and your sister are in Salzheim," which was a D.P. camp.

But I was a given sort of this gift and the gift was to escape from these surroundings. But it wasn't to escape from Judaism, I mean - it was neither here nor there... Judaism is really something that I now respect more than ever and, but, it wasn't, I'm not the kind of person that someone can, I'm not - you can't beat me down. You can't do that to me. I mean, that was it. I wasn't, I wasn't getting out in the morning - when I was getting out, you know, I was fully aware that that might be my last day. I wasn't counting on being a hero or anything. I wasn't counting, but also I wasn't shaking in my boots. I mean, I was, I was doing my thing. That's what I was doing, was surviving, trying to survive.

Betrayed, forsaken, I ran after curfew along the river. The marking of my unacceptable identity drowned. I started a journey, cold and numb; my heart pounded, fear and defiance propelled me. I lived on an ice flow. (An ice flow. I just jumped from one place to another.) Beyond my horizon a world existed but not for me to live in. I was oblivious, without feelings. I knew only danger; death hovered over me. Then spring came. I landed on heavenly shores. I lived, loved, bore children, they multiplied, we are eternal. Now to Timbuktu to Katmandu to Nome and Kotzebu. To Singapore and Tahore. I saw the world and stood on the shores of icy lakes Titicaca, Lake Balkai and wondered why did the innocent die while the world stood silently by.

Remembering and Legacy

I lived by having children and having to cook and having to shop and having to adjust to life in here and I did it the best I could and I did well. And the Holocaust, as you know, I have never forgotten it. Maybe less than, more than other people because I understand it. I understand what, what a horrendous part of history that was for the world, and I'm very pleased that we persevered.

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Eve Finkelsztajn Silver