SAVIORS AND SURVIVORS: A MEMOIR OF THE HOLOCAUST
By Phyllis Zimbler Miller
One line description:
A memoir of the miraculous stories of the survivors and saviors I have personally known.
Utilizing original documents and personal experiences, I will share incredible true stories including the story of a diamond ring beginning the series of miracles that saved one Jewish girl and another story of a bread oven on the estate of a Polish countess that saved one Jewish boy. (Discussion questions appropriate for high school and college students will be included.)
Why this book?
“Does it always have to be the Holocaust?”
With the last of the Holocaust survivors, saviors, and eyewitnesses dying off, it will be easier and easier for Holocaust deniers to convince people that the Holocaust never existed. Despite the multitude of published literature about the Holocaust, the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany political party and the rise of far-right parties elsewhere threaten the determination NEVER AGAIN.
As I describe in this book post “Does It Have to Be the Holocaust?”:
I recently had lunch with a friend — a Jewish woman whose mother and grandmother got out of Germany before being murdered — and she believes that in 50 years the Holocaust will be forgotten in the U.S.
My friend is not alone in this belief – and the timeline may be much shorter than 50 years from now.
The purpose of my book SURVIVORS AND SAVIORS is to be a poignant and accessible testimony that will expose new generations of readers to a collection of first-hand accounts of those who survived, helped save people, and bore witness to the Holocaust. Rather than a book depicting one specific survivor or savior story, this book will be a Holocaust anthology within the framework of a personal memoir.
Some of the specific reasons for why I decided to write this book now are in this blog post of October 8, 2017:
This is a passion project for me, ignited when my husband Mitch and I lived in Germany for 20 months only 25 years after the end of WWII. At that time the Anne Frank House almost closed for lack of funds (see accompanying Stars and Stripes article) and an infamous Waffen SS unit (massacred the entire French village of Oradour-sur-Glane) held a reunion on the outskirts of Munich. During this time in Germany, on the limited budget of a second lieutenant, Mitch and I sought out remnants of the once flourishing Jewish communities of Western Europe.
Living in the country that had killed six million Jews and untold others of Romani, homosexuals, dissidents, mentally handicapped, etc., and surrounded by reminders of the Holocaust, changed my husband and myself forever.
And this led me to a lifetime of interactions with the stories of the Holocaust, as the following timeline reviews:
1) Stationed in Germany: Up-close-and-personal exposure to the Holocaust including my husband working for non-Jewish Department of the Army civilian and alongside a Jewish Department of the Army civilian – both with strong ties to the Holocaust and the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials – 1970 to 1972
(Mitch was a Military Intelligence Officer at the 18th Military Intelligence Battalion and worked on the sociological desk for U.S. Army civilian Lucian – Lutz – Kempner, the German-born son of Robert Kempner, an assistant U.S. chief counsel at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Kempner) while Lutz himself had been kidnapped by the Nazis and interned.)
2) Editor of Friday Forum, the monthly supplement of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent: Editing and publishing first-hand survivor and savior accounts; interviewing in person such historic people as the non-Jewish German Nazi hunter Beate Klarsfeld and Ruth Kluger, the only woman sent with nine men from the Jewish community in British Mandate of Palestine to save European Jews – 1972 to 1978
(Click here to read blog post SURVIVOR: THE LITHUANIAN JEW.)
(Click here to read blog post SAVIOR: THE POLISH COUNTESS.)
(Click here to read blog post SURVIVOR: THE LAST JEWISH CHILD.)
(Click here to read blog post SURVIVOR: CHAIM KAPLAN’S WARSAW DIARY.)
3) Active member of Los Angeles Jewish community: Connection to more personal survival stories including being the midwife for the Shoah Foundation re-opening its video testimony to preserve the amazing “fighting back” story of a Czech survivor (who was my husband’s tailor) – 1980 to present
(Click here to read blog post SURVIVOR: THE UNLIKELY HERO.)
4) Working to preserve the Tuviah Friedman story: Israeli Nazi hunter whose obsession led to finding Eichmann; hELD a reception for him here in Beverly Hills to meet Hollywood people – 2007 to present
5) Return to Germany to see Holocaust memorials: First return visit since leaving in May1972 – Aug 2016
Tying all the threads of my personal history together will enable me to share many first-hand accounts of saviors and survivors in one easy-to-read book that, besides planned for general readership, could be used in schools to support the authenticity of the Holocaust.
In closing, you may again ask, “Does it always have to be the Holocaust?”
Yes, for me it does.
I have previously given physical copies of the Friday Forum first-hand Holocaust accounts to the Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education of Chapman University in Orange, California. The center scanned the articles although these are not currently available online to the general public.
I have now asked the center that, in connection with the publication of this memoir, the center would consider the feasibility of putting online and available to the public those articles whose stories are discussed in the memoir. The Rodgers Center has just hired its first archivist, who is working to establish a digital commons, so this is a reasonable expectation.
I have a B.A. in Journalism from Michigan State University and an M.B.A. in Finance from The Wharton School.
In 1992 Perigee published the Jewish holiday book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION that I co-authored with Rabbi Karen Fox. In 2008 my novel MRS. LIEUTENANT – a fictionalized version of my first nine weeks in the spring of 1970 as a new officer’s wife – was a 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award semifinalist at the same time I self-published the book through Amazon’s POD company.
The Amazon recognition of MRS. LIEUTENANT plunged me into the digital world, and since 2008 I have been active on social media and I frequently blog on history-related and book-related topics at my own blog at PhyllisZimblerMiller.com as well as writing guest posts for other sites. (See, for example, blog post “November 9: Remembering Kristallnacht and the Kindertransport”)
I have experimented with paid ad campaigns on a variety of online platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Library Thing, BookBub and Amazon.
From November 2008 to November 2009 I was the co-host of the twice weekly BlogTalkRadio show Your Military Life.
A Google search of “Phyllis Zimbler Miller” will return pages and pages of blog posts and online articles I have written since 2008.
I am most active on Twitter — http://twitter.com/ZimblerMiller — with 11,900 followers.
My other major accounts are:
(My three most popular stories on the Wattpad site: “The Mother Siege” science fiction with 18k readers; Cold War memoir with 11.2k readers; “The Nature of Love” historical fiction with 2.8k readers)
The Jewish holiday book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION co-authored with Rabbi Karen L. Fox was published in 1992 by Perigee. The book went into several reprints. When the rights reverted to us, we self-published via Amazon’s POD company in 2008.
My other books on Amazon, including seven additional nonfiction books, are self-published:
In conclusion …
On our honeymoon in Israel my husband Mitch and I took a bus tour that visited the Chamber of the Holocaust, Israel’s first Holocaust museum, on Mount Zion. I walked through the series of exhibition rooms, the walls of the rooms covered with tombstone-like plaques, each plaque memorializing one of the more than 2,000 Jewish communities destroyed by the Holocaust.
As a 21-year-old American Jew who grew up in a non-survivor community, I knew very little about the Holocaust or how many Jewish communities had been destroyed by the Nazis. I remember stopping in front of a plaque that noted the destruction of Greek Jews.
Greek Jews? I had no idea that there had been Greek Jews.
Nor did I have any expectation that exactly a year later Mitch and I would be living in Munich, Germany, the birthplace of the Nazi movement. Then just two years after our arrival in Munich, I would be the editor and publisher of first-hand survivor and savior stories for a Jewish publication in Philadelphia.
Nor did I have any premonition that, years later in Los Angeles, Mitch and I would attend the funeral of a Greek Jew, the father of a friend, who had been saved by an unknown Greek woman. The father, a young man at that time, had been taken for a task outside the camp that Greek Jews were being held in before being shipped to their deaths in Auschwitz.
A young Greek woman spotted the prisoner and intentionally flirted with the Nazi guard to give the prisoner a moment to slip away. That moment saved the father’s life. Ninety percent of the Greek Jewish community wasn’t as lucky – they all perished at the hands of the Nazis.
A rabbi in Los Angeles once said to me that it took 10 days for the Greek Jews shipped in cattle train cars to arrive at Auschwitz. Then he added, “The lucky ones died before they arrived.”
Phyllis Zimbler Miller
Beverly Hills, CA