Holocaust survivors, descendants join forces on social media

Apr 18, 2023, 12:30 PM | Updated: 1:22 pm

Holocaust survivor Assia Gorban is pictured with her granddaughter...

Holocaust survivor Assia Gorban, left, and her granddaughter Ruth Gorban pose during an interview with The Associated Press in Berlin, Germany, Monday, April 3, 2023. Assia Gorman and her granddaughter, 19-year-old Ruth Gorban, are taking part in the new digital campaign Our Holocaust Story: A Pledge to Remember. The campaign launched by the New York-based Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, also referred to as the Claims Conference, features survivors and their descendants from around the world and illustrates the importance of passing on the testimonies of Holocaust survivors to younger family members as the number of survivors dwindles. (AP Photo/Michele Tantussi)

(AP Photo/Michele Tantussi)

Holocaust Historian joins Inside Sources to discuss, listen live now!

 BERLIN (AP) — Assia Gorban was 7 years old when the Germans occupied her hometown of Mogilev-Podolsky in Ukraine. The Jewish girl and her family were first imprisoned in a ghetto on the outskirts of town and later forced onto a cattle car that took them to the Pechora concentration camp in 1941.

After a few failed attempts, Gorban, her mother, and younger brother managed to escape in 1942, and spent the rest of World War II living under false identities until they were liberated in 1944.

Sitting in her apartment in Berlin, where she still lives on her own at age 89, Gorban vividly remembers the horrendous details of her time in the camp and during hiding from the Nazis who wanted to kill her only because she was Jewish.

She likes to share her memories with her granddaughter, 19-year-old Ruth Gorban, a university student, who also lives in Berlin and visits her frequently at home.

“My grandmother is amazing,” said Ruth, sitting next to Gorban on the couch. “I even invited her to my school, so that everyone in my class could hear from her personally about the Holocaust.”

Both Assia and Ruth also participated in the new digital campaign called “Our Holocaust Story: A Pledge to Remember,” which was launched Tuesday by the New York-based Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, also referred to as the Claims Conference.

Six million Jews and people from other groups were murdered by the Nazis and their henchmen during the Holocaust and people worldwide commemorate the victims on Tuesday — which is Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Yom HaShoah as it is called in Israel.

Today, approximately 240,000 survivors are still alive, living in Europe, Israel, the U.S. and elsewhere.

The campaign by the Claims Conference features survivors and their descendants from around the globe and illustrates the importance of passing on the Holocaust survivors’ testimonies to younger family members as the number of survivors dwindles.

“We are doing this new social media campaign because survivors are dying,” said Greg Schneider, the executive vice president of the Claims Conference.

“The stories that they hold, the wisdom and knowledge that they can share is too important, too vital for society, particularly in these challenging times, to let it die with them,” Schneider said in a phone interview from New York with The Associated Press.

More than 100 Holocaust survivors and their families are participating in the campaign, all of whom will be featured in posts across the Claims Conference’s social media platforms every week throughout the year. Survivor stories will be shared on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, using the hashtag #OurHolocaustStory.

“When we see a Holocaust survivor with their family members, it sends a powerful message — they didn’t just survive the Holocaust, they went on to live, to build a family, a family that would not exist if they had not survived,” Schneider added.

Assia Gorban was liberated by the Soviet Union’s Red Army in 1944. She later moved to Moscow, where she became a school teacher. While she loved the Russian capital, especially for its vivid cultural scene, she and her husband decided to emigrate to Germany in 1992, looking for more financial stability and following her son, who had moved there earlier.

Even at her old age, Gorban is still an active member of Berlin’s Jewish community, volunteering weekly at the Jewish nursing home and talking to high school students about her life.

“I enjoy speaking in school and helping old people at the nursing home — it keeps me fit,” Gorban said with a cheeky smile and in blissful ignorance of the fact that she’s turning 90 in August.

One reason why Ruth Gorban decided to participate in the campaign with her grandmother was her concern about the reemergence of antisemitism in Germany and elsewhere.

Pulling her necklace with a Star of David pendant from underneath her sweater, the young woman with the long dark hair explained that she prefers to hide it when she’s in public.

“Berlin has a reputation for tolerance and diversity — but when it comes to the acceptance of Jews, that’s unfortunately not true,” she said.

Still, hearing from her grandmother about the Holocaust, made Ruth Gorban very much aware of her own Jewishness.

“I’m proud to be Jewish,” she said. “It’s a beautiful religion and I will definitely pass it on to my children when I’m a mother one day.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories


Rescuers work at the site of passenger trains that derailed in Balasore district, in the eastern In...

ASHOK SHARMA Associated Press

Passenger trains derail in India, killing at least 50, trapping many others

Two passenger trains have derailed in India, killing at least 50 people and trapping hundreds of others inside more than a dozen damaged rail cars.

2 days ago

In this image from Senate Television, the final vote of 63-36 shows passage of the bill to raise th...

Lisa Mascaro, Kevin Freking, Stephen Groves, Farnoush Amiri and Mary Clare Jalonick

Just days to spare, Senate gives final approval to debt ceiling deal, sending it to Biden

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fending off a U.S. default, the Senate gave final approval late Thursday to a debt ceiling and budget cuts package, grinding into the night to wrap up work on the bipartisan deal and send it to President Joe Biden’s desk to become law before the fast-approaching deadline. The compromise package negotiated between Biden […]

3 days ago

File - Harvard University students celebrate their graduate degrees in public health during Harvard...


Paying back student loans, when the pandemic payment freeze ends

A three-year pause on student loan payments will end this summer regardless of how the Supreme Court rules on the White House plan to forgive billions of dollars in student loan debt.

3 days ago

close up of a peleton bike pictured, a recall has been issued for some...

Associated Press

Peloton recalling more than 2M exercise bikes because the seat post assembly can break during use

The recall includes approximately 2.2 million of the Peloton Bikes Model PL01. The bikes were sold from January 2018 through May 2023 for about $1,400.

24 days ago

Immigration Asylum Family Reunification Explainer....

JULIE WATSON Associated Press

US will let in at least 100,000 Latin Americans to reunite with families

President Joe Biden's administration has promised to offer more legal options for Latin American migrants to come to the United States to be reunited with their families.

24 days ago

two border patrol agents pictured, agents are dealing with a surge as title 42 reaches its expirati...

Associated Press

Title 42 has ended. Here’s what it did, and how US immigration policy is changing

The end of Title 42's use has raised questions about what will happen with migration preparing for an increase in migrants.

25 days ago

Sponsored Articles

close up of rose marvel saliva blooms in purple...

Shannon Cavalero

Drought Tolerant Perennials for Utah

The best drought tolerant plants for Utah can handle high elevations, alkaline soils, excessive exposure to wind, and use of secondary water.

Group of cheerful team members high fiving each other...

Visit Bear Lake

How To Plan a Business Retreat in Bear Lake This Spring

Are you wondering how to plan a business retreat this spring? Read our sample itinerary to plan a team getaway to Bear Lake.

Cheerful young woman writing an assignment while sitting at desk between two classmates during clas...

BYU EMBA at the Marriott School of Business

Hear it Firsthand: 6 Students Share Their Executive MBA Experience at BYU’s Marriott School of Business

The Executive MBA program at BYU offers great opportunities. Hear experiences straight from students enrolled in the program.

Skier being towed by a rider on a horse. Skijoring....

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking for a New Winter Activity? Try Skijoring in Bear Lake

Skijoring is when someone on skis is pulled by a horse, dog, animal, or motor vehicle. The driver leads the skiers through an obstacle course over jumps, hoops, and gates.

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...

Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer.

Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy.

Holocaust survivors, descendants join forces on social media