My Jewish Legacy | Ruth Bloch Story
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Ruth Bloch Story

Ruth Bloch Story

Posted by Elyse in Stories 17 Aug 2008

I was born in Zagreb, Croatia May 24th, 1937. My mother was born Erna Berger in 1909 and became Erna Kohn when she married my father.

It is very hard for me to recollect the true facts of all that happened, as I was only five years old at the time. It was then that Hitler came into our town of Glina, Yugoslavia, now known as Croatia. Still there are some moments that are very clear in my mind.

When Hitler invaded our little town we were thrown into jail by the Croatian sympathizers. They took possession of our home and my father’s business. I still recall my grandmother sitting in this huge jail cell where we were all cramped together including my mother father and brother.

One of the Croatian sympathizers came to my father and asked that he give over his two children. My father refused and told them that they can have his home and his business but not his children. It was then that they released us and let us go home under their watchful eyes. We were told to collect a minimal amount of our belongings; then they put us on the last fishing boat out of town. In another words, we paid our way out. Later we found out, that, if my father had chosen to give us up, they would have taken us out in the backyard and shot us. Their feeling was that if you were not true to your children you would not be true to them. This all occurred around 1944, which was already very late in the War.

Somehow we landed in the mountains between Italy and Yugoslavia. Partisans were hiding us until they put us on a ship to South Italy in a town called “Taranto” We lived there until we moved further north to Milano. We stayed in Italy until October 1949 when a cousin of my mothers, who lived in New York, sponsored us to the USA. We arrived to our new life on October 11th 1949. When we arrived in New York anti-semitism was rampant so my mothers’ cousin suggested that we change our name. So our last name was changed legally from Kohn to Colten. From Ruth Kohn I became Ruth Colten

We were very lucky to have escaped. My mother’s family: 2 brothers, father etc.- 33 members in all, lost their lives. Some were killed in a concentration camp called “Jacenovac”

An uncle “Egon” (another of my mothers’ brother) managed to escape and later wrote a book about his experiences. I have the book; it is written in Croatian and full of grotesque pictures. It was published in 1964. It was used at the trial of one of the Croatian Nazi sympathizers. He was locked up at the end of that trial. My mother had still another brother “Leon” and he managed to escape as well. Both uncles lived to a ripe old age. One ended up in New York with us and the other stayed back in Yugoslavia and lived under Tito’s rule until his late 70s.

This is about all I can recall or what I remember from what my mother and father told me. My mother never wanted to talk about it. Of all of us my mother was the most traumatized from the Holocaust. She died in 2000 at the age of 91.

Erna Kohn

Erna Kohn

Pecan Torte

1 Cup Sugar
7 eggs, separated
1 Tablespoon Instant Coffee Powder
2 Tablespoons Powdered Cocoa
½ lb grated Pecans

Beat together sugar and yolks until thick and lemon colored. Beat whites until stiff. Mix pecans, coffee powder, cocoa powder together and fold in whites and yolks alternately. Bake in (2) 9” round layer pans lined with wax paper. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes . Cool

For filling and frosting

¼ pound marshmallows
3 tablespoons strong coffee
½ pint heavy cream

Cook marshmallows and coffee together in top of double boiler until marshmallows are melted. Cool Fold in heavy cream, whipped stiff. Spread between cooled layers and on top and sides of cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve

Ruth H. Bloch

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