Eva Rich Blumberg, Holocaust survivor, dies at 89

November 22, 2013

Eva Rich Blumberg, a Holocaust survivor who endured beatings at a concentration camp in Poland and was shot in the leg by a German guard during her escape, died Nov. 11 at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda. She was 89.

The cause was respiratory failure, said her son Charles Rich.

Mrs. Blumberg was born Eva Wugshul in Kowel, then in eastern Poland and now part of Ukraine. An older brother left for what was then the British mandate of Palestine before the rest of the family was moved into a Jewish ghetto during the Nazi advance during World War II.

As she told it over the years, her mother and two older sisters disappeared amid the chaos and, in 1942, she saw her father shot by the Nazis when he did not obey a command fast enough. She managed to flee the ghetto and find her way to a Carmelite Catholic convent, where the nuns hid her for several months.

With the Nazis closing in, she and a few other young Jewish women were asked to leave. “They gave me the cross and the prayer book and a peasant blouse so I wouldn’t look suspicious,” Mrs. Blumberg told CNN in 1993, “and told us they wished us good luck and they felt that the cross and prayers would save us.”

The fugitives wound up at the Majdanek death camp, where she said she was beaten to see how much pain she could take. “But the worst part was when I couldn’t take” it, she told CNN. “I really asked to be killed. If you could only see the expression on the doctors’ faces.”

As she was being transported to another camp, she managed to escape, though she was shot in the leg by a guard, Mrs. Blumberg said. She told the U.S. Memorial Holocaust Museum that she was soon rounded up with a group of Polish and Ukrainian forced laborers. Concealing her Jewish identity with the help of a Ukrainian woman, Mrs. Blumberg remained with the group on a Bavarian farm until the end of the war.

She immigrated to the United States and, in 1947, married one of her American liberators, Nathan Rich. After his death in 1970, she spent a few years as a sales associate at Lord & Taylor at White Flint Mall in North Bethesda. Fluent in Russian, Polish, German and Czech, she did occasional translation work.

She was a Rockville resident and a member of Har Tzeon-Agudath Achim, a Conservative synagogue in Silver Spring.

Her second husband, Marvin Blumberg, whom she married in 1991, died in 2012. Survivors include three sons from her first marriage, Julian Rich of Swampscott, Mass., Charles Rich of Silver Spring and Steven Rich of Dexter, Mich.; two stepchildren, Joan George of Potomac and Laura Gitlin of Philadelphia; and eight grandchildren.

— Adam Bernstein

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