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< Meet Holocaust Survivors

Charlene Schiff (Shulamit Perlmutter)

Charlene Schiff
Born: December 16, 1929, Horochow, Poland Died: January 19, 2013, Alexandria, Virginia

Shulamit, known as Musia, was the youngest of two daughters born to a Jewish family in the town of Horochow, 50 miles northeast of Lvov. Her father was a philosophy professor who taught at the university in Lvov, and both of her parents were civic leaders in Horochow. Shulamit began her education with private tutors at the age of 4.

1933–39: In September 1939 Germany invaded Poland, and three weeks later the Soviet Union occupied eastern Poland, where our town was located. Hordes of refugees fleeing the Germans streamed through our town. Soviet rule didn’t change our lives very much. We remained in our home and Father continued to teach in Lvov. The most important change for me was at school; we were now taught in Russian.

1940–45: In 1941 the Germans invaded the USSR and set up a ghetto in Horochow. In 1942, with rumors that the ghetto was about to be destroyed, Mother and I fled. We had just hidden in the underbrush at the river’s edge when we heard shots. We hid, submerged in the water, all night as machine guns blazed in the ghetto. By morning others were hiding in the brush and I heard a Ukrainian guard scream, “I see you there Jews; come out!” Most obeyed, but we hid in the water for several more days as the gunfire continued. Sometimes we would doze; once I woke to find Mother had vanished.

Shulamit never saw her mother again and never found out what happened to her. Shulamit spent the rest of the war living in the forests near Horochow. She is the only survivor of her family.