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Holocaust Survivor Rachel Miller Visits FHN Sophomores to Share Her Experience

Life During the Holocaust


Students stand with Holocaust survivor Rachel Miller after her presentation in 2016. She will speak to sophomore English classes again on Nov. 28. (photo submitted)

In 1940, Rachel Miller woke up early one morning to see a parade outside her window. Thinking the parade would be happy and cheerful, she was shocked to find robotically moving people, dressed in grey and green uniforms marching down the street. This parade is what Miller calls the beginning of the end. 

The first time Miller’s family, the Goldman’s, had a run in with the German soldiers was June 23, 1940. The Germans marched into the city Miller was living in at the time and were taking any healthy Jewish men older than 16. Miller’s father, Nathan, had gotten word of this earlier than others in the city and decided to make a run for it. He packed up a suitcase and ran only to be caught and taken minutes later. Miller’s mother, Helen, tried to hide her sons in a tub during the inspection so they would not be taken, however, they were very noticeable

“I’m sure the officer saw them that day,” Miller said. “But for some reason didn’t take them away; maybe they were tired, or feeling generous, whatever the reason we were very grateful.”

Miller says that there is a lot that historians get wrong about the Jews during the Holocaust. The main thing is that the Jews did not resist, in fact, Miller’s brother, Adolphe, was part of the resistance fighters. Alongside Adolphe was a woman that saved Adolphe’s life. She was caught by German officers on the way to delivering the fighters jackets for the winter. She was taken and tortured by the officers for three days straight. They were trying to find out where she was taking the jackets so they could find where the resistance officers were hiding. Although she was tortured in terrible ways, she never gave up the information.

“She is my hero,” Miller said. “She had two holes between her breasts and survived. Even though that happened she never gave the location, she saved my brother because of that.”

Even now, 77 years later, Miller still struggles with the effects of the Holocaust. During the Holocaust, she had to hide in a cellar for five days, surrounded by mice. Now, every time she sees a mouse she has flashbacks of those days and panics. She had to move out of a house that she was in love with because the house had mice. Miller is also deathly afraid of dogs because the Germans had guard dogs that would hunt for them.

“I’m afraid of my own shadow,” Miller said. “I’m afraid of being afraid.”