Mirel Rottersman

"I want my children and my family to be well. I love my family, that's the only thing I have."

Name at birth
Mirel Melman
Date of birth
Where did you grow up?
Bresc Kujawski, Poland till I was 17 years old (When WWII broke out the Germans took everyone to the Lodz Ghetto)
Name of father, occupation
Leo Melman, Had a small Bakery
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Chana Shuravsky, Helped in the Bakery
Immediate family (names, birth order)
Parents, three sons, and four daughters: Leah, Etel, Dina, Hersz (Harry), Samuel, Akiva and I
How many in entire extended family?
Large extended family
Who survived the Holocaust?
One brother Harry, two older sisters Leah, Dina and myself
My family was taken from our home to the Lodz Ghetto.  We were the first ones taken because we were close to the German border.  I was in the Lodz Ghetto only for a few days.  My brothers were taken to a labor camp, the girls to another.  I was taken to a labor camp in Posen and was there for about one year.  From there I was taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau.  They took us out everyday for a roll call.  We were naked, they had Selections.  I was in Auschwitz for two years building roads and working in an ammunition factory making hand grenades.  When the Russians came closer, we were told we would have to march.  We were taken on a death march to Ravensbrück in January 1945.  From there I was taken to Malchow, (a subcamp of Ravensbrück), where I was liberated in April 1945.  The Swedish Red Cross was there under Count Folke Bernadotte and took us to Sweden to recuperate.  I suffered under the Nazis for six years.
It was so terrible; I try not to think about it.  I was so sick when I was liberated.  I was maybe 90 pounds, I almost died.  I don’t know what helped me to survive.  I was lucky I guess; I was young and strong.
After liberation, they took me to Sweden to recuperate.  I was there for two years.  I learned how to sew, how to put pockets in coats and pants.  After Sweden, I went to England where I my older sister Dina was living.  The World Jewish Congress helped me find her.  Dina moved to England before the war.  There were three older sisters who I did not know who had left home when I was young.  Etel was killed in Belgium; my sister Leah who lived in France survived and later went to Canada, and my sister Dina was in England.  My brother Harry also went to Canada. I was the youngest in the family. I did not really know my siblings who were much older than me.  
I later met my husband in England who was a survivor of a Stalinist Labor Camp and from there he joined General Ander’s Army, (the Polish Brigade of the British Army after the Soviet Union became allies with Britain).  My husband and I had two children who were born in England.  In 1951, we moved to New Orleans where he had two stepsisters.   My husband had wanted to go to Israel.  He felt that there was no future in England; life there was very difficult after the war.  
My husband had fled from the Nazis to Russia during the war.  With General Ander’s Army, he went to Egypt, Palestine, Italy, Scotland and then later to England.  He fought at Monte Cassino, Italy.  
I hardly ever talked about the Holocaust because I wanted to get it out of my head.  It was too upsetting. After the war, I was friends with other survivors, everyone had the same past.  We had children, we raised our families, we learned the language and we started a new life.  And it wasn’t a bad life, it was a nice life.  But later the men died and then Hurricane Katrina came.  I moved to a new state, Michigan, to be with my daughter Linda.  I had to start a new life again.  I’m now 88 years old (July 2010).  
Name of Ghetto(s)
Name of Concentration / Labor Camp(s)
Where did you go after being liberated?
To Sweden by the Red Cross, helped by Count Folke Bernadotte
When did you come to the United States?
In 1947, I went to England to be with my sister Dina. I married and had two children. We came to the New Orleans in 1951
How is it that you came to Michigan?
In 2005, I came to Michigan after Hurricane Katrina, then went back to New Orleans for a while, finally moving to Michigan in 2007
Occupation after the war
Homemaker and Seamstress
When and where were you married?
1948 in London, England
Nathan Rottersman, Plumber
Linda; Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, communal worker Ann, social worker in a psychiatric clinic Tina, works in a college cashiers office
Seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild
What do you think helped you to survive?
I can’t tell you, I don’t really know. I look to the future not the past, I’m alive, I married, I had a hard life but we worked ourselves up. I don’t want to remember the Holocaust, it’s too upsetting.
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
I want my children and my family to be well. I love my family, that's the only thing I have.
Charles Silow
Interview date:

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