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Miriam's Decision that Saved Two Lives When She was "Pregnant at Auschwitz"
Aimee Herd : Sep 4, 2012 : Joe O'Connor – National Post
"Two hundred women stepped forward and 200 women went to the gas chamber. And I don't know why I didn't step forward." –Miriam Rosenthal
(Toronto, Canada)—Miriam Rosenthal recently celebrated her 90th birthday (August 26th), and Canada's National Post featured her and the incredible story of not only her survival, but also her infant son's survival in a Nazi concentration camp.
Miriam was born in 1922, the baby of the family with 12 siblings, in Komarno, Czechoslovakia. Growing up on a farm she says she had a "beautiful life."
In 1944 she married Bela Rosenthal in Budapest, and enjoyed just a brief honeymoon and time of being newlyweds until her husband was sent to a slave labor camp, and Miriam to Auschwitz. (Photo: Tyler Anderson/National Post)
Four-months pregnant at the infamous death camp, Miriam—like so many others—was cold, tired and starving when an SS officer spoke through a loudspeaker to the women.
Miriam said, "Can you imagine? Even women who were not pregnant stepped forward. I was standing with my younger cousin, but I wouldn't go. She says, 'Miriam, what are you doing?'
"Something was holding me back. Someone was watching over me . . ." Miriam told the National Post. "Two hundred women stepped forward and 200 women went to the gas chamber. And I don't know why I didn't step forward."
That was just part of the miracle of life that seemed to follow Miriam, as she was eventually brought to Kaufering I—a sub camp of Dachau—and she found that she was one of seven pregnant Jewish women there.
Post reporter Joe O'Connor points out that the Nazis were not sympathetic to Jewish children; they were "viewed as useless mouths to feed and often among the first killed. Some were used in medical experiments, but newborns were typically murdered at birth."
But there in the basement of the Kaufering I camp, one-by-one over the weeks, seven babies were born—Miriam's the last, a baby boy born on February 28th, 1945. She named him Leslie.
According to O'Connor's report, American troops wept as they liberated Dachau in April of that year, discovering the mothers and babies—"new life in a graveyard of bones," he writes.
Miriam describes the moment when her beloved Bela—also a survivor—returned to her and their son in Komarno.
"I could see him coming, running from afar, and I shouted, 'Bela, Bela.' I wasn't sure it was him, and he was running and calling my name," Miriam recalled.
"I can't describe that feeling of when he saw our baby, when he saw Leslie for the first time," she said, "We cried and cried and cried."
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