The Spiro Ark presents “Frozen Mud and Red Ribbons” by Avital Baruch on Holocaust Memorial Week.
“Frozen Mud and Red Ribbons” is the story of a Romanian Jewish Girl’s Survival through the Holocaust in Transnistria and its Rippling Effect on the Second Generation.
When Sophica was abruptly separated from her father as a toddler, she found a haven
in Grandmother Gitté. But one sunny day in July, when she was six years old, gendarmes
marching and shouting in the streets stopped her dreamy childhood and her hopes
to go to school and to be a big girl like her sister. She was deported together with her
mother and the whole of the Jewish community of Mihaileni, Romania. On foot, through
icy fields, they arrived in eastern Ukraine, a strip of land called Transnistria. Death,
illness, brutality, shame, became her daily scenes. Sophica suffered hunger and fear
but kept her hopes and sanity, albeit losing her sister and her father and witnessing her
mother being viciously attacked. She survived typhus and starvation by being strong
Herman was a jolly little boy who didn’t care much needing to wear the yellow star
and being forbidden from school. He continued playing outside with his friends while
his father and brother were sent to a labor camp. At the age of 14, when the Second
World War ended, he joined a Jewish youth movement and embarked on a ship to
the Promised Land. However, their journey was interrupted and they were taken to a
British detention camp in Cyprus.
Sophica and Herman were given new names, Shulamit and Tzvi. They met and made a
home in Israel. Shulamit/Sophica never mentioned her sad childhood, but the essence
of the past found its ways out. Sixty-five years after those events, her daughter comes
across a family secret and starts asking questions, inducing Shulamit to break her silence
and become again the frightened little Sophica.
This book tells her moving childhood story.
Avital E. M. Baruch was born in 1957 in Haifa, Israel. She worked as a chartered accountant and a Steiner Class Teacher. Upon retiring from teaching, Avital embarked on the project of this book as a literary memorial to her aunt, her grandfather, and her greatgrandmother, who were denied a proper burial. She dedicated six years to the sensitive task of interviewing her mother and other members of the family, and to researching the historical background of the Holocaust in Romania, especially the deportations to Transnistria.
“A testament, a pilgrimage, a journey of discovery and redemption, a beautifully crafted tapestry of stories of suffering, bravery, death, and survival. Oral history does not come better than this beautifully written book, a daughter‘s labour of devotion to her Holocaust survivor mother and a gift of love to her children and her readers.”
Yiannis Gabriel, PhD, Professor at the University of Bath,
author of Myths, Stories and Organization
“Frozen Mud and Red Ribbons offers a true work of love in honor of Baruch‘s parents and all survivors, a work that deserves to be read, considered, and reread. Her masterful narrative moves across Romania to Cyprus and Israel, capturing the voice of generations that experienced the Holocaust and those who grew up in its shadow.“
Maura Hametz, PhD, Professor of History at Old Dominion University, Norfolk, USA, Co-Editor of Jewish Intellectual Women in Central Europe, 1860-2000
“This profound story has etched its impression greatly on my mind. Such memoirs from the Second World War must not be forgotten. The book is full with sensitive touches of the Second Generation, as reflected by a daughter, the narrator. Avital Baruch puts in the spotlight the heroes of incurable lost childhood, engaging us with their journey of survival and struggle for new life and hope.“
Dr. Dorit Zilberman, author, literary scholar and critic, Vice Chair of The Israeli Society of Authors
“This is not just another book about the Holocaust or the history of the Jews in Romania, Bessarabia and Bukovina. It is a testimony written by a member of ‘The Second Generation’. […] This book is a must for all those who study that period of time and are trying to understand what happened in Europe in those dark years of WWII. It brings another piece of the puzzle from that region in a perspective that was not covered that much in the past.”
Ambassador Alexander Ben Zvi, PhD, Deputy Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel