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'True reconciliation takes both parties': Holocaust survivor talks forgiveness

Posted at 5:27 PM, Apr 29, 2024

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Hanna Zack Miley, a Holocaust and Kindertransport survivor, will share her remarkable journey of forgiveness and reconciliation at the University of Arizona's Center for Creative Photography tonight.

Ahead of her speaking engagement, Miley spoke with KGUN 9 about her life, her parents' sacrifice and her views on the current situation in Israel.

At the tender age of seven, Miley's parents made the heart-wrenching decision to put her on a train bound for England to escape the Nazi regime.

"My mother's very tender love has been a very foundational part of my life," Miley said. Her parents' act of courage meant they would never see their daughter again.

For years, Miley harbored resentment towards Germans for the loss of her parents.

"Emotionally and internally, I came to the end of my rope," she said.

But Miley's unexpected journey of reconciliation began when she turned to faith.

"My bitterness, my resentment, my hatred for Germans... All that ugly stuff inside I could give it to him... And he would forgive me," she said of her relationship with God.

That journey eventually led Miley back to Germany, where she gained a deeper understanding of her parents and their sacrifice.

"I met the woman who'd been the teenage live-in maid at our house... And she could tell me stories about my mother that I didn't know," she said.

The event at the University of Arizona, hosted by the UArizona Center for the Philosophy of Freedomand the Arizona Center for Judaic Studies, aims to explore themes of forgiveness and reconciliation.

"For true reconciliation, there has to be a mutual confession and a mutual forgiveness," Miley emphasized.

Robert C. Robbins, President of the University of Arizona, will open the event, followed by remarks from Rep. Ben Toma, Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives.

The evening will include an oral history screening of Miley's journey and a fireside chat with Rep. Alma Hernandez.

For those interested in learning more about Miley's story, her book A Garland For Ashes is available on her website, HannaMiley.com.

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Eddie Celaya is a multimedia journalist at KGUN 9. Born in Tucson and raised in the Phoenix area, Eddie is a life-long Arizonan and graduate of the University of Arizona who loves the desert and mountains and hates the cold. Previously, Eddie worked in print media at the Arizona Daily Star. Share your story ideas with Eddie at edward.celaya@kgun9.com, or by connecting on Facebook or Instagram.