Miriam Gerber

Miriam Gerber

Miriam Gerber was born in Worms, a city in Germany, in 1922. She had a younger sister named Lorle and a close cousin named Walter. Miriam’s first personal experiences with  anti-Semitism were in 1934, when she was unable to enter a private high school due to being Jewish. She was, however, able to attend a small public school with a few other Jewish girls. Because of the harassment that they experienced at school, Miriam’s father decided to found a Jewish School in 1936.

When Miriam finished high school, she went to the Jewish Home Economics school in Frankfurt, but had to return home on the 10th of November, 1938 (Kristallnacht) when chaos broke out and synagogues were burned. Her father had narrowly escaped being taken to a concentration camp by being away on a trip at the time. In January, Miriam and her family were forced to leave their apartment in Worms and thus moved to Heidelberg. It was there that Miriam started taking a course in baby nursing. Eventually, Miriam was accepted as a student nurse in the Jewish hospital in Mannheim.

On October 22nd, 1940, Miriam was forced to board a train that traveled for days through France. They finally arrived in Lisbon and Miriam had no idea where to stay, but she was relieved that she was free from the train at least. As the months progressed, Miriam started work in a camp, but it wasn’t enough to distract her from the cold and hunger. In 1941, Miriam and her family received a letter from her Uncle, saying that he was attempting to obtain entry for them to Santo Domingo, in order to get them  out of the camp. After rushing

their application process, Miriam and her family discovered that they would be leaving the camp within days. Her father was taken separately, but once they reached Marseille, he was able to visit them from where he was staying in Les Milles.

The trip to the Dominican Republic was long and strenuous, beginning with the train ride through France and Spain and eventually the ship ride. Miriam and her family arrived in New York and made their way through Ellis Island, where they stayed for a few weeks longer, waiting for the war to end. In July of 1941, Miriam and her family were able to depart on a ship to San Juan, Puerto Rico where they waited for more people to board the ship, and finally arrived in Santo Domingo.

Miriam was able to get a job working as a nursing volunteer in a hospital. She enjoyed her time working there and learned a lot, but in 1946 she was able to immigrate to the United States, living in New York and working as a dental assistant. Miriam married a man named Jack and a year later she was pregnant with her son, Gabriel. Miriam now lives in Portland, Oregon where she can visit her family and is happy. Miriam published her book, Life of Miriam in 2010.

 

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