Miryam "Mimi" Wise was just a child when she and her family went into hiding to avoid Nazi persecution, but the memories are still vivid and she will be sharing her story in Wollongong this October.
"The Holocaust was the ultimate in bullying," the survivor said. "I realise that this [speaking publicly] is important because my stories are going to die with me."
"I didn't consider that anything I had to say was particularly important - not compared to people who had been in concentration camps and suffered enormously ... but I want to make people aware," she said.
She and her family came from the "big city" of Strasbourg in north-eastern France, but began moving around the country between 1939 and 1943 fearing a German invasion.
For the past 30 years, Mimi has recounted what then happened many times as part of the travelling exhibition, because she likes Australia and never wants to see this type of "distrust and hatred and bullying" like she saw as a young girl.
November 4, 1943 was the night her family fled after learning they were on a Gestapo list, and if found then their fate could turn to death like that of six million other Jewish people murdered during the Holocaust.
It is a night her mother never spoke of again, too traumatised by the dread of what would happen to her children. Mimi remembers her family packed and fled to a nearby forest, hiding for several days in fear.
"When the war finished I was just over seven and my brother [Sam] was six ... but I was old enough to remember the most dangerous times," Mimi said.
"Hardly anyone really could have survived without the help of somebody else."
The family were able to obtain false identity papers with a new surname, while Mimi and her brother were "sent away" and "sheltered" by a farming family for several months, until it was too dangerous to stay.
Sam doesn't speak publicly about his experience, it's too difficult to retrace those steps, Mimi said.
She puts the pain down to an incident when authorities stormed the farmhouse, looking for two Jews.
"Apparently neighbouring farmers suspected them of sheltering Jewish children and the authorities came," Mimi recalled.
"The grandfather was left in the house with my brother and when someone came knocking on the farm door [it wouldn't have been the neighbours they were too far away] he took my brother to the cellar. He was all alone and he was very, very scared. And he's only ever spoken [publicly] of that once."
It was not uncommon for children to be taken, sometimes on their own or as babies, and put on a train for days. They would be crammed in with thousands of people at a time, with no water, and sent to a concentration camp - or death camp as they are also known.
But the kindness of others helped Sam and Mimi reunite with their parents who had taken refuge in the tiny village of Arboureix. Their mum and dad never discussed the logistics of how they managed to get their children back, again the dread was probably too overwhelming.
In 1945 the family returned to Strasbourg to find their home occupied and possessions stolen, so in 1947 they arrived in Australia for a new life.
Mimi, and other holocaust survivors will also take school and community groups on tours of the Courage To Care exhibition of stories, historical artefacts and moving audio-visual elements for people to understand the past so it may not repeat itself.
"We live in a wonderful wonderful country and I wanted it to remain that way," she said.
The CEO of the Courage To Care organisation, Ed St John, said holding the exhibition in Wollongong was part of the "response" by Wollongong City Council to the revelations the gallery's original benefactor (Bob Sredersas) had Nazi links from WWII.
"[The exhibition is] not meant to scare people or horrify them, it's meant to be quite uplifting and restore your faith in humanity, they're not meant to destroy it."
Courage To Care is at Wollongong Art Gallery until November 26. Official opening, Tuesday October 3, 6pm.
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