Local Auschwitz survivor dies at 96

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — You may have seen her in the food court at Independence Mall, hugging strangers or simply offering a smile.

Bronia Merlin was an Auschwitz survivor who was active in the Wilmington community. She passed away peacefully this morning around 7:00 a.m. at the age of 96.

Jennifer Ballard, a family friend of Merlin, says that although she suffered from PTSD, she didn’t let that stop her in sharing her story and laughter with everyone she met.

At the age of 18, Bronia Merlin was taken by Nazi soldiers from her home in Poland. In 2015, she told WWAY it was an “unimaginable nightmare”. She spent six years inside Auschwitz. Merlin did something about 1.1 million people didn’t do – she survived. Although she never saw most of her family again, she was reunited with her sister, the last surviving member of their family, during the liberation of Auschwitz in January of 1945.

Merlin was placed in a displaced-persons camp in Germany, where she was married and had her first child. She and her husband came to America as refugees.

In the years since her arrival to America, Bronia Merlin dedicated her time to sharing her story.

She began public speaking at the age of 89. She traveled to UNCW and local schools and gave her personal experience of Auschwitz while students studied Elie Wiesel’s book ‘Night’.

Merlin was interviewed by the researchers for Steven Spielberg’s movie, ‘Schindler’s List’. Her name is included as one of the tickets given out at the Holocaust Museum, where visitors travel through history and find out if the person on their ticket perished or survived.

Bronia Merlin not only survived, she lived a life where she was able to touch the lives of others and give them a glimpse into an unforgettable part of history.

Ballard says she will always remember Merlin as a woman full of laughter with “tenacity and a fierce work ethic”.



Categories: Local, New Hanover

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