Holocaust Memorial Day: ‘Sometimes I would ask myself why am I alive?’ Sabina Miller

Sabina Miller, 89, of Cannon Hill, West Hampstead, spent most of the war on the run from the Nazis.

Sabina Miller suffered typhus as a teenager in the Warsaw ghetto in 1940 and was unconscious for 18 days. When she awoke her parents were gone and she would never see them again.

“I don’t even know who looked after me. All I know is that when I woke up after 18 days they weren’t there anymore.”

She spent most of the war on the run from the Nazis and their informers, once living through the bitter 1942-1943 Polish winter in a makeshift hole in a forest in northern Poland.

“Some farmers knew of a hole left by partisan fighters. We lived in that hole. You had to slide into it.”

The frost ravaged Mrs Miller’s body so badly that she would later have to have part of her foot amputated.

One night the teenage girl she shared her cave with, her only companion in the world, vanished without trace.

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“My enduring feeling was pain, emotional pain. Sometime I would ask myself, why am I alive?

“We lived like animals. My hands and feet were frozen. We were unrecognisable as humans.”

Sixty years on, she has still not given up on the search for a trace of her parents, grandparents or siblings and still cherishes a cardigan given to her by her mother.

Four years ago she visited Auschwitz and she regularly phones the Jewish cemetery in Warsaw to see if restoration work on the graves has uncovered any trace of her lost relatives.