Marylou Ruhe, Holocaust survivor; wrote of her experiences

BY ROBERT A. COHN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF EMERITUS

Marylou Ruhe, a Holocaust survivor admired for her writing and speaking abilities, which she used to share her experience with groups in the area, died Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008, of cancer at her daughter’s home in Chesterfield. She was 86 and had lived in Clayton.

Mrs. Ruhe often contributed articles, poems and vignettes based on her Holocaust experiences which were published in the St. Louis Jewish Light and other publications. She gave numerous speeches at area schools, museums and in written testimonials in numerous publications. She was featured in Steven Spielberg’s Holocaust survivor video series showing at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. She was also a docent and active volunteer and speaker for the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center in Memory of Gloria M. Goldstein in St. Louis.

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Marci Rosenberg, chair of the Holocaust Museum and Learning Center Commission, said, “Marylou Ruhe had been our voice for many years. She was always willing to speak to any one person or any organization on behalf of the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center. She will truly be missed by us all.”

Jean Cavender, director of the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center, said, “Marylou will be missed by many, and all of us connected with the Holocaust Museum. Her passing was a great loss to the entire community.”

Daniel Reich, curator and director of education at the Holocaust Museum and Learning Center said, “Marylou was a truly exceptional person. Though increasingly frail, she continued to come to the Holocaust Museum to share her experiences with our young visitors as recently as a few years ago. Her harrowing experiences in several camps and the rebuilding of her life after the Holocaust was so inspirational.

Frequently, Marylou accompanied our educators to off site teacher workshops and classroom visits, where she shared her powerful testimony. Every Survivor is a valued jewel in our community, and the passing of Marylou Ruhe is a devastating loss for us all.”

Mrs. Ruhe was born in the industrial city of Lodz, Poland, the daughter of a college professor. Her college plans were interrupted in 1939 when Nazi Germany invaded Poland. She survived the ghetto at Lodz and later the Auschwitz Nazi death camp.

“We must all be aware of the seeds that sow future genocide: blaming one particular group of people for economic problems; using propaganda and disinformation, blindly following leaders no matter how odious their ideas may be; religious prejudice, intolerance and hate,” Mrs. Ruhe wrote in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1994, which was quoted in its obituary. She added, “We must teach our children the tragic lessons of the past to prevent the future holocausts. Never forget. Never again.”

Mrs. Ruhe was a longtime bookkeeper and translator for the Reliable Insurance Co.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 19, at the Ethical Society of St. Louis, 9001 Clayton Road, Ladue, with a reception immediately following.

Among the survivors are two daughters, Janet Schlag of Chesterfield and Margaret Ruhe-Spencer of west St. Louis County; three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Her husband, Steven J. Ruhe, died in 1983.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Ethical Society of St. Louis, 9001 Clayton Road, Ladue, Mo. 63117; or to the Holocaust Museum and Learning Center, 12 Millstone Campus Drive, St. Louis, Mo. 63146.