Aviva Sandler

"Never Forget. Tell the story to future generations."

Name at birth
Aviva Thatch
Date of birth
Where were you born?
Where did you grow up?
Kovno, Munich, and Detroit
Name of father, occupation
Benesch Thatch, Attorney and textile importer
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Riva Thatch, Teacher
Immediate family (names, birth order)
I was an only child at the time of the war. My siblings Rhoda and Leib were born after the war
How many in entire extended family?
My father Benesch, was one of five children of Leib and Rhoda Thatch, (Isaac, Moshe, Sarah, and Pesach). My mother Riva was the daughter of Emma Efron and had a brother Shmuel. I had two cousins.
Who survived the Holocaust?
Mother, father, me, maternal grandmother, some aunts and uncles, and a cousin (who was also hidden)
I was born in the Kovno ghetto during the war. At the time it was beginning to be dangerous for the Jews. I was given an optimistic name, meaning “spring.” My parents had a secret hiding place under a sofa during the first two years of my life.  When that was no longer safe, I was sedated, placed in a sack and loaded into a wagon under some hay.  I was given to a woman named Letulena, who ran a boarding house for high school girls in a nearby town.  The woman soon became fearful of her safety of hiding a Jewish child.  One of her students, Konstanjia took me to her parents’ farm to be hidden.  My grandmother and uncle found me after the war by discovering a woman wearing a jacket made from the same unusual wool plaid as my blanket.  

On Yom HaShoah, 2012, my husband and I traveled to Vilna (Vilnius), Lithuania where we were present to see the Israeli Counsel present to Konstanjia Povilaikis/Babinskenia, the inclusion of her mother and grandparents as Righteous Among the Nations.  Her three daughters, Regine, Auzelina, and Virginija, accepted the award in her behalf.
Name of Ghetto(s)
Where were you in hiding?
A farm in Lithuania with foster parents
What DP Camp were you after the war?
St. Ottilion, a former monastery
Where did you go after being liberated?
Munich for three and a half years
When did you come to the United States?
In 1949 we came to New York, then Philadelphia
Where did you settle?
Detroit, Michigan
How is it that you came to Michigan?
While my father was the director of an ORT school in Munich, a philanthropic businessman from Detroit was visiting and told him he would have employment if he immigrated.
Occupation after the war
Student. I attended University of Michigan. Later I became a clinical social worker.
When and where were you married?
August 16, 1962 at Adat Shalom in Detroit
Bob Sandler, Attorney
Elizabeth Sandler, works for Science Magazine Eric Sandler, CFO of San Diego water department Jennifer Sandler Bowen, homemaker
Ian Bowen
What do you think helped you to survive?
I was a smart little girl. I was very adaptable and didn’t look stereotypically Jewish. My mother was courageous, and driven by impulse. My father was charming with a wonderful way with words.
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
Never Forget. Tell the story to future generations.
Interview date:

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