Ellen Tarlow, Holocaust survivor and educator

Ellen M. Tarlow

Ellen M. Tarlow

Ellen Meinberg Tarlow, 88, formerly of Glenside, a Holocaust survivor who narrowly escaped Germany for America and later told of her family’s ordeal at the hands of the Nazis, died Sunday, Aug. 21, of heart failure at the Quadrangle in Haverford.

Mrs. Tarlow lived through Kristallnacht – Nov. 9 and 10, 1938 – when, as part of the anti-Semitic rage that gripped the country, storm troopers broke into her family’s home in Gütersloh and smashed everything.

Just 10 years old, she turned on her bedside lamp to see a soldier above her, armed with a shiny ax and a pistol. She pleaded for her life.

“You are Jews, and as Jews you deserve this,” he responded, she would later recall in an oral history taken by the Gratz College Hebrew Education Society.

Although the Meinbergs were spared, troopers burned the house to the ground. Her father, Paul, was deported to Buchenwald. He was later freed, but Mrs. Tarlow’s grandmother, forced to stay behind when the family fled Germany in 1941, died in the Holocaust.

Although Mrs. Tarlow went on to make a life for herself in America, she never forgot the past. In 1986, she returned to Gütersloh to view where her home had stood and a monument erected by the Germans to the 62 Jews who had been killed and displaced from their homes.

After the trip, she told the Inquirer: “I have written the last chapter to those terrible years. That part of my soul has been cleansed.”

The three-hour videotaped oral history she gave in November 1993 is archived at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

Whenever she could, Mrs. Tarlow lectured to schoolchildren about her life during the Holocaust.

She always ended the talks by telling students to report discrimination and unfair treatment of any kind to their teachers, parents, and police, and, if witnessing an injustice, to take action.

Born in 1927, Mrs. Tarlow came from a family that had lived in Gütersloh since the 17th century. Her father was a cattle importer and a decorated World War I veteran. She was a happy schoolchild until age 8, when she was spat on for being Jewish. She was expelled from school for the same reason in 1938.

After the Nazis burned their home, she and her mother, Ilsa, took refuge in a local Catholic cloister, then fled to Bielefeld, Germany. Discovered by the Nazis, the two were returned to Gütersloh and forced to live in a Jew House (Judenhaus) for three years.

Her father was released from Buchenwald because of his World War I record – he had been wounded in battle. The Meinbergs were able to get visas to emigrate, but Mrs. Tarlow’s grandmother, Sophie, had to stay behind because officials said she was too old.

“I will never forget the sight of my dearly loved grandmother standing at the train station as we left on our journey to freedom – that small, brave figure waving to us without a tear,” Mrs. Tarlow said in her oral history. “She was taken to Theresienstadt three months later, and we learned that she died two years later of starvation.”

The family arrived in Staten Island, N.Y., and then moved to the Logan section of Philadelphia. Mrs. Tarlow graduated from Gratz High School. She was a scholarship student at Philadelphia College of Art, but dropped out because she had no money for art supplies.

She was married to Stanley Tarlow in 1948, and began a busy life in Glenside as a clothing manufacturers’ representative and as a wife and mother of two.

Mrs. Tarlow was “an amazing gourmet cook who loved to host parties,” said daughter Robin Tarlow-Several. “She enjoyed life; it was wonderful to be in this country and enjoy all the freedoms.”

Her husband died in 1997. Besides her daughter, she is survived by a son, Marc, and four grandchildren.

Graveside services will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 23, at Roosevelt Memorial Park, 2701 Old Lincoln Highway, Trevose.

Contributions may be made to University of Southern California Shoah Foundation via https://sfi.usc.edu, or to the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, 2100 Arch St., Philadelphia 19103 or via www.jewishphilly.org/tributes. The gift should be designated for elderly care in memory of Ellen Tarlow.

Originally Published Here