Miriam Harel was born on 10.11.1924 in Lodz. Her father was Gabriel Goldberg (1888-1942) and her mother was Sara-Esther (nee Proch 1892-1944).
Gabriel was born in Warsaw to mother Hana and father Shlomo.
Gabriel had three younger siblings: Abraham, Moshe and Haya.
Sara-Esther had four siblings: Mordechai, Leon, Ita and Yocheved.
Miriam had six siblings: Israel, Rachel, Roza, Pola, Hanka and Itzhak.
Only Rachel, Hanka and Miriam survived the Holocaust.
Israel was married to Haya. They had three daughters. Ruth was 8 years old, Gitale was six years old, and Janette was only six weeks old, when they were all killed in the Holocaust. The other siblings were not married.
Israel was a yeshiva graduate. He taught his siblings reading, writing and arithmetic. Miriam grasped the material so well, that when time came to enter school, she was placed in second grade.
Gabriel was the eldest child in the family. As such, he was well educated. He was a judicial certified rabbi as well as a licensed teacher. He was very religious and belonged to the Gur Hassidic sect.
The family spoke Yiddish at home. However, the children preferred to speak Polish.
Sara-Esther studied at secondary school until she was 17 years old. She spoke Polish, Russian, German and Yiddish.
Miriam's family lived in Lodz in a large house that consisted of five rooms. One room was given to the house cleaner.
They had a bathtub and running water in the house, as well as electricity.
Miriam's parents had a department store that was located in the city center. Mother managed the store while Gabriel was the cashier.
When Miriam was born, the family lived close to the business. After a few years they moved to a more distinguished area in town, to a larger apartment.
After Miriam completed seven years of elementary school, she desired to enroll to high school. However, Miriam's parents could not afford the high tuition.
Since Miriam excelled in her studies, her school principal sent a letter to the board of education applying for a scholarship for Miriam. Indeed, Miriam was granted a scholarship; she had to pay only 1/3 of the full tuition.
Along with her studies, Miriam was a member of Gordonya, a Zionist youth movement, despite her parents' disapproval.
Miriam managed to keep her participation in Gordonya's activities from her parents, until summer 1939. Her group planned to spend the summer camping in the forests by the river. Miriam desired to join her friends, but knew that her parents would forbid her from doing so. So she told her parents, that her friend with her family, were going on vacation to the mountains and she wanted to join them.
Miram's parents gave their permission, but that summer the friend's family did not go due to financial hardship.
Miriam joined her Gordonya friends, while her parents thought that she was with her friend's family.
Miriam's parents found out the truth. Nevertheless they didn't prevent her from going.
Miriam recalls that summer as pure happiness.
Miriam recalls her entire childhood as a very happy one.
On 1/9/1939 the new school year started.
Miriam went to school, but the students were told to return home, since studies were cancelled.
Immediately Jews started to face horror. Gentiles abused Jews; they pulled out their beards, burnt their beards, and harmed Jews on the streets. Miriam recalls streams of blood in the streets.
Germany started to establish labor camps and extermination camps.
Auschwitz and Majdanek were initially designed to be forced labor camps, where their inmates built roads, while Treblinka and Sobibor served as extermination camps.
Jews were ordered to move to closed in quarters in town.
In February 1940, Miriam's family, as well as all of the Jews in Lodz, had to leave home and move into the ghetto. It was very difficult to leave their belongings behind. They couldn't decide what to take along.
Each member of the family carried some belongings. Mother took blankets, father took his religious books, Miriam took her books, and her young brother Itzik, took his wooden rocking horse.
It took the family three trips back and forth, from the ghetto to home.
The ghetto was surrounded with barbed wire and guards were placed every 10 meters.
The family of nine persons lived in a small cellar.
In March 1940, the ghetto was closed. Curfew was ordered from 6 PM until 6 AM. People had to sneak out to buy food.
Once Israel, Miriam's brother, was caught during the curfew and was severely beaten about his head
Food was scarce. People received a slice of bread with jam, which was their daily nutrition. At times they received canned horse meat. People got sick due to malnutrition. They lost teeth, lost hair, suffered from unhealed wounds, arthritis and the like. People died because of lack of medication. Many could not bear the situation and committed suicide.
Life in the ghetto got worse daily.
Miriam's father still believed in God and continued to pray daily.
Miriam witnessed the situation in ghetto and wrote poetry describing her situation.
On the one hand, Miriam described the man pulling a wagon carrying corpses, and on the other hand, she described youth dancing the tango.
Rumkowski, the Judenrat ghetto commander, treated youths that were members of youth movements, somewhat more gently. Those youths in the ghetto received some land where they could work and learn. They were better fed than in the ghetto. After spending a year and a half on the farm, Miriam saw the sorrow at home and decided to return to her family.
In spring 1941, notices were posted in the ghetto, in Polish, German and Yiddish, calling people aged 16-40, to volunteer for agriculture work in Germany, promising better living conditions.
Those that believed were put on trains. After a short trip, they were ordered to get off the train. They were given pencils and paper. After writing letters to their families, the passengers were shot and killed.
A month later another transport as the one before, was sent. The ghetto population shrank.
In autumn 1941, Hans Bibow, the ghetto commander, received an order from Germany, instructing him to liquidate the ghetto.
However, in July 1941, Germany attacked Russia. The commander feared he would have to fight in the war. Therefore, he claimed that the people working in the ghetto, were essential to the war effort. Among those people was a dentist.
Miriam recalls that she had teeth problems. She visited the dentist and in return for her daily bread quota, he saved her teeth.
In 9/1942, the Germans entered the ghetto. Itzik, Miriam's young brother was taken away, screaming. That night he returned home only to be taken again two days later.
When he tried to escape, he was shot and killed. Miriam's sisters witnessed the incident.
At that time, autumn 1942, Miriam's father was killed in Auschwitz.
In 1944, Miriam was still in the ghetto, with her family, except for her father and brother.
With them was Yocheved, Sara's sister. Yocheved got married at the late age of 37, to a widower who had seven children.
Yocheved was killed bearing her first child.
In 8/1944 Miriam was in Auschwitz, facing Dr. Mengele. She was put in block 11. At night, she heard a woman screaming that people were being burnt. Miriam was in despair. She wanted to die.
Miriam was in Auschwitz for three weeks. She was then sent to France, to an ammunition factory. The manager did not accept the transport of new workers, and Miriam, along with the others, were sent in 9/1944 to Bergen-Belsen.
In Bergen Belsen Miriam met a young girl named Anne. It was Anne Frank.
In 12/1944 Miriam was sent to Germany, to work in an airplane parts factory.
On 16/4/1945, the American forces arrived and Miriam was liberated.
When the Americans arrived with their tanks, the inmates feared that they had come to kill them. However, a Jewish officer that was with the troops, calmed them down, and supplied the hungry people with food.
Miriam and a few other girls decided to return to Lodz, to look for survivors. Miriam was told that she was the only survivor from her family.
While digesting the news, Miriam met Arye Tishler, a man who headed her youth movement before the war.
Arye informed Miriam that a group was being organized to immigrate to Palestine.
The group members were ordered to identify themselves as a group from Greece. All they knew were two words in Greek.
One night they reached the Alps where they met envoys from the Jewish Brigade who took them to Italy.
Miriam remained in Italy for two years where she met Yosef and married him.
In Italy, Miriam learned that her two sisters, Rachel and Hanka had survived.
In March 1947, Miriam and Yosef boarded s/s "Moledet" and were on their way to Palestine. They were on the sea for nine days before the engines stopped. Their boat was diverted to Cyprus.
Miriam and Yosef were in Cyprus for thirteen months, where on 10.3.1948, Haim, their first child was born.
Six weeks later, the family arrived in Palestine.
Rachel, Miriam's sister, had arrived in Palestine two years earlier.
Miriam and Yosef lived on Kibbutz Mizra, where their daughter Vered was born on 14.7.1951.
The family later moved to a city near Haifa where Yaron, Miriam and Yosef's youngest son was born on 24.9.1958.
When Yaron was in school, Miriam enrolled at the university and studied literature for three years.
In 1972, Miriam joined "Rafael", where she worked until her retirement. Miriam was a Hebrew/English translator.
Miriam wrote twelve books, prose and poetry.
Miriam has visited Poland eighteen times, serving as a living witness. She accompanies groups of youths and army soldiers visiting Poland and learning about the Holocaust.
Miriam is an active lecturer of students and soldiers, telling them about her life and her history during the Holocaust.
Miriam and Yosef lead active lives and enjoy their children and grandchildren who live in Israel and in the USA.