Ruta's Closet, lecture and book launch
Monday, 18 November 2013 from 18:45 to 20:00 (GMT)
The ghetto of Shavl in Lithuania had very few Holocaust survivors and has received little attention.
The ordeal of the Kron family – Ruta, her parents, Gita and Meyer, and her little sister Tamara – started in 1941. Their life in the small town of Shavl was upended when the Nazis invaded, and forced them and their Jewish neighbours into a squalid ghetto. Here, the Krons’ story unfolded in a litany of terror. Added to the daily, grinding hardship of finding enough to eat, there were deeper horrors to be endured. One day, the whole ghetto was forced to watch a man hanged for carrying one contraband packet of cigarettes. When the ghetto became too full, residents were marched out to the woods in their droves to dig their own graves before being shot. In all of this, the Krons and other Jewish ghetto-dwellers saw the involvement of many of their former Lithuanian neighbours, who assisted in the intimidation and killing. One fateful morning, in 1943, the children of the ghetto were mercilessly snatched from their parents and slung onto trucks bound for Auschwitz. The cheery sounds of loud band music blasted from speakers atop trucks outside of the ghetto fence, muffling the disturbing screams and the general mayhem within. Inside the ghetto, Ruta and her sister clung together in the old closet in which they had been hastily hidden, and prayed that nobody would discover them…
Ruta’s Closet is not only an exploration of a dark chapter in recent history, but also a celebration of the few people who risked their lives to save a persecuted group. Between the accounts of political extremism and evil acts, we read incredible stories of individuals willing to sacrifice everything to help their fellow man. The courage of the ordinary family who clandestinely adopted Ruta; the doctor who risked his life by performing a secret operation to save one man; the man who, under threat of his own death, brought food to the starving Kron family and others. The tales of heroism and bravery here are numerous and triumphant.
A timely reminder that the persecution of minority groups still rages on throughout our world, Ruta’s Closet is testament to her heartbreaking story and her legacy - a vital lesson for future generations.
Ruth Kron Sigal was born in Lithuania in July 1936. After the Second World War she moved to Canada with her family, where she died in December 2008, shortly after the completion of Ruta’s Closet.
Keith Morgan was born in Jannuary 1954 in Blackpool, England. He began his career as a reporter for his hometown newspaper in 1975, and moved to Vancouver, British Columia, in 1980, where he currently writes for The Province and Vancouver Sun newspapers.