Houston Holocaust survivor given France’s Legion of Honor

Ruth Steinfeld (Holocaust Museum Houston, Holocaust Museum Houston)

HOUSTON – An 88-year-old Holocaust survivor from Houston who has spent decades educating people on the genocide of Jews during World War II has been honored by France.

The Houston Chronicle reports that Ruth Steinfeld was awarded the Legion of Honor, France's highest prize, in a ceremony Sunday at Holocaust Museum Houston. As children during the war, Steinfeld and her sister were saved by a French humanitarian organization.

French Consul General Valérie Baraban praised Steinfeld as an “invaluable witness” to the horrors of genocide, saying Steinfeld is “committed to speaking for the 1.5 million children who never had a chance to survive.”

Steinfeld's family was forced from their home in Germany to an internment camp in France. She and her sister and mother were sent to the women's barracks. Their mother released her daughters — ages 7 and 8 — to the care of humanitarian rescuers who got into the camp by posing as the Red Cross.

The girls at first lived in an orphanage and later went into hiding in a private home.

“Lea and I survived because of the goodness in people, in spite of the inhumanities,” Steinfeld said.

Her parents died at Auschwitz.

She and her sister eventually settled in Houston. Her sister died in 2008.