British Prisoners-of-War Saved My Life by Sara/Hannah Rigler
Sara/Hannah Rigler's memoir, 10 British Prisoners-of-War Saved My
Life (Jay Street Publishers, 2006), begins with her childhood in
Shavel, Lithuania. Following the Soviet occupation, her father, a leather
factory owner, was arrested. She then survived the Nazi-imposed ghetto,
German death camps and a December 1944 - January 1945 death march. She
escaped her German guards and hid in a barn. She was then rescued by Stan
Wells, one of 10 British POWs captured at Dunkirk in 1941 and working
as forced laborers. He brought her food and clothing and took care of
her. As the Soviet liberating army closed in, the British POWs were evacuated.
Twenty years later Hannah located one of her rescuers in South Africa,
and in 1972, she had a reunion in London with nine of the POWs. Sara/Hannah
Rigler was named Sara Matuson at birth. She came to the United States
in 1947, became a nurse, and married William “Bill” Rigler.
In memory of her sister Hannah, who perished on the death march along
with her mother, Sara adopted her sister’s name.
[NOTE: I knew Hannah Rigler years ago, when I was working for New
York State Senator Manfred Ohrenstein and she came to Albany on behalf
of the Brooklyn Center for Holocaust Studies. I recently met her again
through mutual friends, and learned that her remarkable story is now published.
Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel]
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