Blium, Reuven

Reuven Blium survived the Holocaust in Lithuania, a country where as many as 95% of Jews were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators.  Reuven was born in 1930 in Kaunas, into a family of limited means.  Reuven’s father passed away when Reuven was only 3, and his mother had no alternative but to put him in an orphanage.  Reuven spent his early years there, and he was able to escape the Nazi onslaught due to the foresight of a teacher, Mr. Zundell.  He had been concerned about the war’s coming to Lithuania for several months, and had been preparing the students for evacuation.  When the Kaunas airfield was bombed, he took many of the boys to the train station, and they headed east into Russia.  Many of the younger children at the orphanage did not make it, and many were murdered by Lithuanian collaborators at the orphanage’s summer camp.  Reuven believes that he can give them a voice.  For those who did escape, a harrowing journey ensued, where the train was repeatedly attacked by the Luftwaffe.  On the way, Reuven was jostled about, but he arrived intact into deep Russia, in the area of Galich.  There he spent time in an another orphanage, which he describes in very Darwinian terms.  Reuven learned to survive there, and he was lucky to get out after a year, making his way to the Volga region, where another orphanage awaited.  Along the way, Reuven attended school, and as he got into his teens, he began to work in war industries.  With the war’s end, he made his way back to Lithuania, to reconstruct his life.  With the end of the war, he ended up in the Red Army.  Later he was able to make his way west, eventually settling in Canada.  We interviewed Reuven at his home in Toronto, over several visits in the summer and fall of 2016.