A Survivor’s Journey - Our April 21 OLM
As a Shoah (Holocaust) survivor, Ben Walker led a secret life. Nobody – not even his wife, Ruth, nor his daughters, Ronit and Naomi (Z’l) – knew anything of the events that shaped his life and his deepest fears. But as the Twin Towers in New York fell on Sept. 11, 2001, 56 years of his personal history began to rise.
“It showed what hatred can do,” he said of that infamous day’s events. “Hatred caused them to kill innocent civilians, just like the Nazis. I started talking to many students in schools and universities about what hatred can do. Antisemitism is pure hatred.”
Born near Czernovitz, Romania in 1935, he grew up on his grandfather’s farm, enjoying climbing trees, riding horses and roaming in cornfields. It all changed in 1941.
In October of that month, Ben, his 2-year-old sister and his mother and father were given two-hour’s notice to report the train station, bringing only what they could carry themselves. What followed was imprisonment in a building with sanitary facilities, food, medicine or water. His sister and father died. Eventually, Romanian soldiers allowed the opening of an orphanage, and Ben’s mother was able to send him there.
Reunited after liberation in 1944, they made their way to Israel. Ben’s mother came to the United States in 1953, and he joined her in 1956. Ben became a teacher in the US, eventually serving in the field of Jewish education and entering field of business. He has lived in Atlanta since 1970.