chapter  16
3 Pages

The Shadow of Shira: Marilyn B. Meyers


There was always the family-whispered story of Shira, which I have only come to know recently. My knowledge is incomplete. I feel bewildered, I go numb, I turn away, yet I keep returning. This is the story as I have known it: Shira was born the same year I was (1942) in Lithuania. I think that the family spent some time in the Kovno Ghetto. Under the coming threat of the Nazis, her parents left her with a family in Italy. There was a baby sister who died (or was she killed?) with her parents. I overheard whispers of Shira when I was a child-mysterious, fascinating, frightening. When the war was over in 1945, Shira’s uncle (my grandfather’s brother) went to ƒnd her. Her parents had been murdered in Auschwitz-the exact circumstances remain unknown. Her uncle felt compelled to take her into his family of survivors, then living in South Africa. I know this story through fragments that I overheard as a child-in whispers. Clearly, it registered in my mind in some unformulated way. I have a letter in my possession, which is a communication to the uncle written by a person from a Jewish social service agency. (I feel uncomfortable as I write this section-guilty as if I am taking her story away.)

The letter is dated December 1, 1947 from Rome and signed by I. Lipschitz (Shira was just 2 years and 4 months old).