Skip to comments.Couple Who Survived Nazi Camps Celebrate Their 70th Wedding Anniversary
Posted on 11/21/2012 5:19:57 PM PST by nickcarraway
Eva and Ruda Roden are set to celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary Thursday. For any couple to make it to that milestone is miraculous enough. But the Rodens had to overcome a lot more than just the aging process to hit 70 years together. They also had to survive a series of concentration camps during the Second World War.
The Rodens, both natives of Prague, actually got married in the Nazi concentration camp of Terezin in the former Czechoslovakia. They were then dispatched to several other camps before wars end, and they not only made it out alive but also managed to find one another in the chaotic aftermath of their liberation. In order to obtain a marriage certificate, they re-did their vows in Prague after the war.
Love can work in strange and wonderful ways, offers Ruda, his eyes twinkling. He turns 90 next year. But whats most important is that we still like each other as well as love each other. A common sense of humour is also key to a long, happy marriage, not to mention to our sanity.
And lets also say patience is certainly a virtue, chimes Eva, 88, while glancing at her husband.
The Rodens three children, their six grandchildren and three great grandchildren, along with some friends, will be fêting the couple at a reception on Saturday. Many of the couples friends have long since passed away and almost all their two families perished at concentration camps during the Second World War.
The Rodens did well after coming to Canada. Ruda became a respected physician and, later, psychiatrist. Eva obtained her masters degree in French literature. The two collaborated on the book, Lives on Borrowed Time, a chronology of their turbulent lives. Ruda also penned, among seven other academic treatises, Price of Survival. They both speak four languages proficiently, Czech and German in addition to English and French.
Whats even more remarkable is that the Rodens are both extremely lucid and live on their own in a cozy apartment across the street from the Montreal General Hospital, where Ruda worked up until last year. He also maintains another apartment in his building where he continues to treat a couple of patients pro-bono.
Both are in good health, and Ruda, who has a shock of brown hair, looks like hes fit enough to run a few kilometres.
Its no special regime, Ruda says. I wake up in the morning and have breakfast. Then I wait for lunch, then I have dinner. He laughs.
They first met during the war when Prague was already occupied. Almost everything was forbidden for us to do then, but there were still a few Jewish clubs that were open, Eva explains.
The Terezin camp at which they were soon interned was the unlikely location for their initial wedding ceremony. But they werent there for long. They were next sent to Auschwitz and were fortunate to be placed in what was called the family camp, an attempt at smoke and mirrors on the part of the Nazis. Conditions for inmates there were considerably better than for others at Auschwitz who mostly perished in the camps gas chambers. The Nazis used our family camp to show the world how they were dealing with the Jewish question, Ruda notes. They wanted people to think they were handling us humanely.
After six months at Auschwitz, they were relocated once again. She was dispatched to a work camp near Hamburg, where inmates were brought in to clean up after air raids. As long as we stayed fit, they kept us alive and working, Eva says. But we were no longer together. He didnt know where I was and I didnt know where he was.
It turns out he had been sent to the Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg, Germany. Toward the end of the war, Eva was shipped off to the Bergen-Belsen camp in Germany, while he was put on a death march back to Terezin. Against all odds, they survived. But only barely in Evas case. She came down with typhus at Bergen-Belsen, just before the camp had been liberated by the British.
I simply did everything I could to track her down when the war ended, Ruda says. The last message I got from her was from Hamburg. But, miraculously, I found her.
We hoped but frankly we both thought that we would perish before the war ended, Eva says.
Ruda and his mother made it out alive. But we were two out of 123, he says. And Eva and her father were the only survivors from their family. She stopped counting all those in her family who died.
This Holocaust experience will always be part of our lives, she says. There is no denial. There is not a day that goes by that I dont think back to those days.
Surprisingly, not all their memories are grim. Some are actually funny in a strange way, he says. Like the time he got grilled by the SS about his occupation. He told them he was a washer who could clean their linens. I was joking, but they didnt know. They believed me. That probably saved my life. And he ended up washing the linens of Nazis in one camp.
The couple resettled in Prague after the war. He studied medicine there and was three months short of his degree when Czechoslovakia came under communist rule. They then moved to Montreal and, shortly thereafter, to Galveston where he landed work at the University of Texas. Following their 10-year stint in Texas, they returned to Montreal and he spent time in Kingston where he finally got his medical degree at Queens.
People were coming to me as a general practitioner at first, says Ruda, whose son Dan is a renowned cardiologist at Vanderbilt in Nashville. I was good, but mostly I didnt charge.
As a psychiatrist later, I was also good at handling the demons of others. The most important thing I have learned is that to live your life in hatred is not the answer. With great, great effort, you can forgive. You cannot forget.
In retrospect, I cant believe we are still around, Eva marvels. Its the most unlikely of stories.
Put it this way, Ruda interjects, if someone were to tell me a story like ours, I would never believe it. Im not a religious person. I believe religion is at the root of most conflicts. It is the opiate of the masses. But I have seen where religion has helped some people. I can only envy that. And I will concede that if there is a he or she up there, they certainly took care of us.
Sadly, I'm guessing they would be Obama voters if they had moved to the USA instead of Canada.
Amazing story. Congratulations to them both!!
They may not be religious but GOD believes in them.
How sad that they have lived such long lives without thoroughly realizing the reason. Oh well. HE is patient.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
- 1 Corinthians 13:4
The youngsters today could learn from this couple.
Some people found faith. For others their experiences justified their lack of faith. How does one deal with the randomness of the killings or that fact that better men than they died?
It strikes me as an arrogant position. As far as I'm concerned, I don't understand the world, but I trust that God does. I'm pretty sure that He's smarter than me.
What remarkable story!
I promise you, in your honor, I will NEVER, EVER get a tattoo!
Sadly, The Holocaust and other historically important events are no longer being taught in school and the significance is lost on today’s youth.
They can tell you everything about Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian and other celebs, but no little to none about the Millions that perished during The Holocaust, The Holodomor (The Ukrainian Holocaust/Genocide) The evils of Communism and the Millions that died as a result of it, or about the great men who created this country and the men who built this country.
Instead, much of the important History of our once great nation has been replaced with a liberal agenda and historically significant events are ignored or revised.
I have two Nephews that have gone thru the same public schools in San Fran that I did and I can’t even believe what I hear what is being taught to them.
My Brother is conservative but my Sister-in-Law is Liberal, so she is fine with it, but my Brother isn’t.
Unfortunately, my Brother is the one that works and isn’t able to go to the school and complain about the garbage that is being fed to his kids, how their minds are being poisoned.
My SIL thinks it’s fine, so my Brother has to “undo” the damage that is being done to his kids on a daily basis.
He goes online and shows them the truth and his boys ask “Why do our Teachers lie to us?”
Fortunately, his boys are getting older and are starting to speak up at school. OTOH, they are now being labeled as “Problem students”
SIL says it’s better to just have them remain silent and go along.
My Brother says that’s what many Jews did pre-Holocaust.
The public school system is blatantly pro-Obama and Teachers blatantly engage in politicking pre-election, telling children to tell their parents to vote for Obama or else their education will suffer as a consequence if Romney wins, among other “evils” of having a “R” in the WH
I remember the same crap when Nixon ran for President the 2nd time in 1968 and hearing the same Bee Ess, but not on the same blatant level as it is now.
The older Nephew is going to graduate HS this year and has no plans for college - he has been working with his Father during Summer/Weekends and will eventually take over the business that my Brother owns and runs.
The younger Nephew is just starting HS and is anxious to start to work in the family business as soon as he is legally old enough as his older brother has a nice car, money saved in the bank, dates pretty girls, etc... and isn’t buying into the big, lib lie.
Women love real men, not liberal wussies. Real men work and support themselves and their family and not have the government take care of their kids.
Fortunately, they have both seen the results of putting in an honest days work and the benefits of it first hand.
They stopped believing in Santa Claus a long time ago.
Sadly, many on the left haven’t.