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By Ruth Cohen

I was asked to speak in the Hall of Remembrance at the Museum’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. After all these years of never wanting to speak in a large public setting, I was hesitant. Yet, one day as I was driving, I suddenly saw myself speaking at a lectern and knew that I had decided to say yes to the request.

The Museum prepared for the event weeks in advance. My bio and picture were posted on Facebook and in several other places online. I started getting notes from friends of old, and through the Museum, heard from people I had never met.

A few days after the commemoration was over, I got a letter that was sent to me through the Museum. The letter was from my first cousin’s daughter, Margy, asking if indeed it was Ruth Cohen from Mukachevo, Czechoslovakia, who spoke. She included contact information for her mother, Edith, as well as Edith’s sister, Ibi, and, of course, herself. I was so excited to hear from them that as soon as I got home, I called Margy. We had lost contact with the whole family 45–50 years ago, for no reason at all, but in an instant, our connection and love for each other came back. We exchanged the most important information and made plans to meet again soon. This cousin lives in Connecticut. 

I then called Ibi with whom I had a very close relationship in years past until she moved to Florida. We both felt as if we had never lost contact. With plans to visit each other soon, we hung up. I was filled with joy.

I was incredibly excited to know that these two sisters were alive and well, even though their parents had died several years ago. From my town of 10,000–12,000 Jews, this family was one of the only two families that survived the camps intact. After surviving Auschwitz and other concentration camps, they were together in displaced persons camps in Germany. From there, they made their way to New York, through Israel and Canada. We—my father, sister, and I—reunited with their family in New York in 1950 and resumed our relationship.

Between my two cousins, they have seven children, a bunch of grandchildren, and also a bunch of great-grandchildren. My whole family is looking forward to meeting all of them some day soon, with great excitement. If only this coronavirus would leave already . . .

© 2020, Ruth Cohen. The text, images, and audio and video clips on this website are available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use as defined in the United States copyright laws.

Tags:   ruth cohenechoes of memory, volume 13auschwitzdisplaced personsimmigrationfamily

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