Vladka Meed, 1921-2012

One of my students from my 2007 Holocaust Memorials course came by to visit today.    He told me in passing that Vladka Meed died.

Vladka Meed was a famous Jewish resistance fighter from World War II and she died this month at 90.  She was incredibly courageous, using her ability to “pass as an Aryan” to escape from the ghetto and work for the Jewish resistance outside of the Warsaw ghetto walls.  Vladka and her husband, Benjamin, crusaded for the establishment of the US Holocaust Museum and worked extensively to expand Holocaust education in the United States.  Her memoir, “On both sides of the wall : memoirs from the Warsaw ghetto,” was originally published in Yiddish, but has been translated into English and three other languages.

The survivor’s registry at the Holocaust Museum displays their names.  Although these may be difficult to watch, you can watch her tell some of her story through the Museum’s website, how she participated in clandestine cultural activities, her reaction to the deportation of her mother and brother, and how she ultimately watched the Warsaw ghetto burn.

Although I worked in the US Holocaust Museum for 2 years, I still have difficulty hearing the stories of those who survived.  That was always one of the hardest parts of the job.  When days like this arrive, when I hear of a survivor passing, it reminds me of the incredible strength that lies within each of us and how much it truly amazes me.

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