Return to Headlines

Cedarbrook Students Listen to Holocaust Survivors

Sarah Danon Miller(Jan. 24, 2024) Cedarbrook students heard stories from Holocaust survivors earlier this week. The assemblies, presented by the Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center, were organized by former CSD teacher Lise Marlowe, who serves as director of the museum. 

In one of the assemblies, students heard the story of Sarah Danon Miller, a refugee from Split, Yugoslavia. Miller was only 13 when she came to America to escape German-occupied Europe. One of only 200 Jewish people in Split, she feared for her life for most of her childhood.  

“When you hear Sarah, I want you to imagine that a child is telling you this story,” said Marlowe. “There are no longer adult survivors of the Holocaust.”

When Hitler invaded Yugoslavia in 1941, Italian fascists occupied the place she called home. “The Italians weren’t as bad as the Germans. At least they were letting us live,” said Miller. “The Germans were taking people to concentration camps. We only had restrictions on where we were allowed to go.”

In 1943, the Allies liberated Sicily and the Italians surrendered which brought the Germans to the Yugoslavian border. Miller’s father, brother and older sister journeyed to the mountains to fight them, leaving Miller, her mother and younger sister behind. After a few weeks, she convinced her mother to seek refuge away from the Nazis on a nearby farm. Miller and her family moved to three different locations before joining the Jewish partisans in the mountains.

After months of only traveling under the cover of night and braving the wilderness with no shelter and limited food, her mother collapsed from exhaustion and asked her to leave her behind and save her sister. 

“It was the worst day of my life,” said Miller. “No child wants to live in a world without their mother.” Another group of partisans returned Miller’s mother to her the next day. 

When they reached the end of the mountains with limited resources left, the partisans decided to send a rescue signal to the Allies in Italy. Americans sent supplies to help them down the mountain and eventually sent a ship for them to cross into displacement camps in Italy. In a surprising turn of events, Miller was reunited with her brother and father at the displacement camps. 

Soon after, President Roosevelt invited 1,000 refugees to seek safe haven in America until the war was over. Miller’s family was one of the few to journey to America on a ship with wounded U.S. soldiers. Twenty years later, Miller reunited with her sister in the U.S. and became the first generation of survivors to tell the story of the Holocaust.