Ruth Mermelstein was born in Romania and became a victim of the Nazis when she was just a young girl. Ruth and her older sister survived the death camps, but the rest of their family perished. Despite her suffering, starvation, and illness, Ruth never forgot the last words her father spoke to her when they were traveling together on a packed boxcar to Auschwitz, “I have confidence in you. You are going to make it. You are a strong girl.” Though she never again saw her father after they entered the death camp, his words kept her alive and have empowered her throughout her life.

Following liberation, Ruth lived in Sweden for ten years and, with the help of her sister, met the man who would become her husband. They moved to the United States and were married for 57 years. She has two daughters, two sons-in-law, and three grandchildren. She speaks to groups of students about her experience and advises them to study and stay in school. “Make this a better life,” she says. “Do something good with it.”

To learn more about Ruth in her own words, click here.