Ruth Kaplow (Raschka Kaplowitz) was born in 1924, in the town of Krivitz, Belarus. Her mother, Genya, passed away in 1928 and her father, Bernard, left Belarus to go to South Africa, leaving Ruth in the care of her paternal grandparents. Her father’s family descended from Lubavitcher Chassidim. Ruth was able to complete high school, under Russian rule.
In 1937, Bernard briefly returned from his travels in South Africa, Panama, and Newfoundland. He soon immigrated to America, not knowing the danger that awaited his daughter and the rest of his family. When he found out what was happening he tried to locate Ruth but was unable to find her. When the Germans came to Krivitz, they killed all of the Jews, including the Kaplow family. Miraculously, Ruth was saved because she had been taken to work in a kitchen for the Germans. A soldier warned Ruth and her fellow workers that the Gestapo was coming for them and told them to escape to the woods. They all ran, but several of them were killed. Ruth and the remaining survivors found a group of Russian and Jewish partisans.
Ruth found safety working as a secretary, until 1944 when it was safe for her to return to Krivitz, but as with the rest of Belarus, there was not much to return to. She then made her way to Minsk, Poland, where she met Irving. They married in December 1945, in Krivitz, first making their way to Poland, and then to the border of Russian-controlled Berlin.
In order to make money, Irving began smuggling Jews out of Russia to the West. He was able to get Ruth to West Berlin, where she was housed safely with friends. Irving continued to work until he was caught and imprisoned by the Russians. When he got word that his son, Allie, was born, he attempted to escape but was caught and returned to prison. Ruth was able to smuggle him some money, and when he and a friend were being moved by train to another prison, he asked the guards to have a drink with them. They agreed and found a cafe, where the guards got drunk and Irving and his friend were able to escape. Irving headed to West Berlin, while his friend headed to Argentina.
When the Berlin airlift began, Holocaust survivors were taken to the Feorenwald Displaced Persons camp in West Germany. Irving, Ruth, and Allie, waited for their papers to arrive from America and Canada. The Canadian papers arrived first and they headed to Newfoundland, where Ruth had family. When Ruth and Irving came to North America, she was reunited with her father. He had the opportunity to know his grandchildren Allie, Gary, and Elaine before he passed away in New Jersey in 1977.
Irving and Ruth worked hard and grew their retail business. They had two more children, Gary and Elaine. Sadly, Ruth passed away in 1962. Irving moved to Montreal where he enjoyed their children, six wonderful grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. Ruth’s legacy lives on in each of them.