After 50 Years of Silence, Hidden Child Survivor Reveals Romanian Brutality

“In the aftermath of the Holocaust,
indifference to genocide cannot be tolerated;
Holocaust remembrance imposes a moral obligation to speak out.” USHMM website

Review of Live! Remember! Tell The World!

The Story of A Hidden Child Survivor of Transnistria,

as told by Leah Kaufman,

written by Sheina Medwed

Mesorah/Artscroll Publications, 2005

Buy online at a discount:

One afternoon, as I stood at the kitchen sink preparing supper, my four-year-old son, Baruch, ran into the house, sobbing. “Mommy, Mommy, do you know what the Nazis did to little children in the Holocaust?” He put his arms around me and buried his face in my apron. I felt panic rising up within me. I wanted to comfort my son, and I wanted to run away. Vulnerable and helpless, I had no voice with which to answer him.

Could I tell him that among those who were slaughtered, who perished from starvation, illness, and grief, on the Death March to Transnistria, were members of his very own family? Could I tell him, “Yes, my precious child, I was one of those children in the Holocaust that you learned about today?”

It took hidden child survivor Leah Kaufman, almost half a century of silence before, in response to Holocaust Deniers, she unlocked the fortress of her memory and determined to begin speaking about her Romanian World War II experiences in Transnistria. Now, after three years collaboration with writer Sheina Medwed, her historical autobiography, Live, Remember, Tell The World, has been published by Artscroll/Mesorah Publications.

This book is about finding the Divine in the midst of total despair and darkness. It tells how one little girl, all alone in the world, lived by her wits and intelligence. Running from the enemy, posing as a non-Jew, kidnapped and taken to the Peceora concentration camp, Leah never gave up.

When freedom finally came and the Canadian Jewish Congress sponsored her voyage, the teenage liberated Leah rebuilt her life anew, becoming a devoted teacher of Yiddish and Hebrew. Now the proud mother of three sons and more than twenty grandchildren, Leah’s book is a memorial testimony that will stand as an educational edifice for the future of the Jewish people.

Live, Remember, Tell follows nine-year-old Leah on the heart-wrenching Death March where she witnesses torture and one by one, the deaths of her entire family. Interwoven with documented details, we learn the shrouded political history of Romania, a country whose ancient anti-Semitism made it ripe for close ties with Nazi Germany. Those ties were not severed until almost the end of the war. When Marshal Ion Antonescu saw the real possibility of a German defeat, he broke his pact with Hitler, refused to follow through with plans for further deportations, and re-patriated the orphans, whose families had been brutally driven on Death Marches to Transnistria, that piece of German-occupied land across the Dniester River—the designated graveyard for Romania’s Jews.

But beyond the personal and political detail, Leah’s story is also about another journey. It is the anguished, inner journey from silence to speech, from her consciously chosen reticence to her current position as international speaker and educator of Jewish youth. As Leah so poignantly states, “If my story ended with the building of my own family, I would be forever grateful.

But as destiny has it, my story does not end there. Because in the winter of 1941, when I was a nine-year-old child on the Death March, clutching my mother’s hand, as we trudged on the frozen earth, my mother, of blessed memory, would say to me over and over: ‘Du muzt lebn, do muzt gedenken, du muzt dertzeiln der velt vos die Rumanier hobn tzu undz geton — You must live, you must remember, you must tell the world what the Romanians did to us.’

She tells Jewish youths, “You are the continuation of my story because you are the future of our people and the future builders of a better world…I, who am a living spark from the inferno of the Shoah (Holocaust), am here to tell you today that we must never give in to the pit of despair. Despair leads to apathy, to indifference, and to inaction, and these are worse than death.”

This book speaks not only to Jews; it speaks out against injustice, hatred, and genocide on many levels and for all people.

“To respond to hatred with hatred is not the answer. It is not easy for me to go back to that terrible time and to share with you both the experiences that I had and the lessons that I learned from them. I do it for your sake, for the sake of Jewish continuity, and for mankind. I will not give you a message filled with hatred or bitterness.”

Horror and miracles, terror and triumph, fear and transformation, Live, Remember, Tell, will move, educate, and inspire you, as Leah Kaufman unfolds her faith in G-d, commitment to Judaism, belief in mankind, and her vision for a better world.