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‘A special bond’: Alabama sisters who survived Holocaust pass away 10 days apart

Two Jewish sisters who endured the horrors of Nazi Germany during the Holocaust have passed away within 10 days of each other in Birmingham.

Ruth Scheuer Siegler, 95, passed away last Saturday, while Ilse Scheuer Nathan, 98, passed on Aug. 23. The two lived within two blocks of one another for years, according to the Alabama Holocaust Education Center.

The sisters were six and nine years of age when Adolf Hitler assumed power in Germany. In their early teen years, they fled the fascist empire for safe haven in Holland. The two had planned to immigrate to the United States. As World War II began, however, the borders closed.

The Scheuer sisters’ father in 1940 was sent to Westerbork, a refugee transit camp in the Netherlands. To avoid being deported, the two self-reported two years later. The sisters were later sent to Auschwitz, where their mother, father and brother would die.

Stripped of their personal belongings, the sisters were given numerical tattoos by Nazi guards and forced into mandatory labor. While working at the extermination camp, the sisters walked upon a pile of shoes. It was at that moment that they realized the Nazis were murdering the prisoners.

They would go on to be sent to Poland, where they worked to clear runways for Nazi aircraft. There, the sisters were abandoned and left for dead until Russian troops found them and sent them back to Holland.

Upon being reunited with family, the sisters arrived in Mobile and became American citizens in 1946. The sisters would go on to raise families with their spouses in Birmingham.

Ann M. Mollengarden, education director at the Alabama Holocaust Education Center, said the sisters “were together through their entire life’s journey.”

“They held a special bond, before, during and after the Holocaust. Every day they talked,” she added.

Dylan Smith is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

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