Miru Alcana

Miru Alcana

Born: May 24, 1915

Rhodes, Greece

Miru was the youngest of four children born to a family of Spanish-Jewish descent on the island of Rhodes. Rhodes had been occupied by Italy since 1912, so Miru learned Italian as well as French at school. At home the Alcana family conversed in Ladino, the Spanish-Jewish language. Miru attended a Jewish school, where she received instruction in Hebrew three times a week.

1933-39: Life on my beautiful island was pleasant and we were close with our neighbors. I called them Auntie Rivka and Uncle Giuseppe, even though they were not really blood relations. I liked to spend time with my dozens of cousins and nieces and nephews. After finishing secondary school, I began studying midwifery, and I enjoyed my studies very much. I also regularly attended meetings of the Menorah Zionist organization.

1940-44: The Nazis occupied Rhodes in September 1943 and on July 23, 1944, my family and I were arrested and deported to Auschwitz. Upon arrival I was separated from my family. I was branded with a number and my hair was cut. I was told I'd see my parents later. While waiting for the roll-call, we newcomers heard a distant orchestra playing classical music and we smelled what seemed to be burning meat. We were horrified to learn that the smell came from the crematoria and that the burning flesh was that of our friends and relatives.

Miru was the only one of 57 family members to survive Auschwitz and was one of only 161 Jews of Rhodes to survive the Holocaust. She immigrated to the United States in 1950.