Updated: Oct 12
Eskaton is proud to introduce you to Misia Nudler, philanthropist, Holocaust Survivor and resident of The Reutlinger Community in Danville, California.
Born in Poland in the fall of 1927, Misia and her fellow countrymen were caught squarely in the cross-fire of invading armies when the tremulous peace between Germany and Russia disintegrated in June of 1941, the reality of World War II falling upon their heads like the bombs that fell from the sky. Unable to escape the fighting, Misia’s Jewish family was soon forced into the ghetto in Ciechanowiec with 30,000 others of their faith. Surrounded by barbed wire, multiple families crammed into a single room, no running water, electricity or heat, conditions in the Polish ghettos were deplorable. “We were cold, hungry, and scared all the time. It is hard to describe how we lived,” Misia says. When the chance came, Misia’s father sent her and her youngest sister through a gate guarded by a sympathetic Pole and out into a hostile world.
Misia was just 14 years old.
For three years, Misia and her sister traversed the Polish countryside, moving between the farms that dotted the landscape during the night. Never sure of their next meal, uncertain where to find shelter or clothing, these children also faced a kind of hatred foreign to most. And yet, these painful memories are dwarfed by those Misia has of people who displayed incredible empathy and courage, those who chose to risk their own lives to help save theirs. After the war ended, Misia went to a displaced persons (DP) camp in Germany where she lived in the barracks of a former military base for the next four years. Despite her bleak surroundings, Misia soon found a way forward, falling in love with a young Jewish man who was driving a Jeep for the American Red Cross. She and Harold were married days after her twentieth birthday; their son was born in those same barracks just over a year later.
Misia’s aunt was eventually able to secure them the necessary papers for their immigration to the United States, and the young family finally arrived on American soil in September of 1949. Determined to pass on what she viewed as great kindness from those who had helped her during her years in hiding, Misia was soon volunteering her time and talents to organizations like St. Vincent De Paul and Meals on Wheels, helping to feed the starving in San Francisco and Oakland. “My mother taught us to care for others, so that is what I did. I wanted to do it for her,” Misia recalls.
For a woman who saw the very worst of humanity, her capacity for love and gratitude is astounding. When asked what message she would share with the younger generations, her words are as straight-forward and honest as the woman herself. “Don’t be selfish. Give of yourself to others. Help people. This is the only true way to live.”
To read and watch Misia’s full story, visit: Ageisbeautiful.com