Selma Blick Dickman of Columbia, South Carolina, is joined by her daughter Janis Dickman in this interview, which focuses on social issues dating to the late 1940s. Selma, a New York transplant, describes how she feels about living in the South. After moving to Sumter, South Carolina, in 1949, her tendency to talk about New York was greeted with advice from the Jewish natives: talk less about New York and more about her new home. Selma discusses her past perceptions of Jewish-Christian relations and notes how they have changed over time. She and Janis respond to questions about antisemitism and Janis recalls that as a child growing up in Columbia, "I always remember feeling different." Both describe their reactions to learning of the Holocaust and Selma remembers the arrival in Columbia of survivors Jadzia Sklar and Ben Stern, the interviewer's parents. Selma considers how her views of African-Americans have changed during her lifetime; both interviewees talk about racism, segregation, and present-day race relations, including the controversy surrounding the presence of the Confederate flag on the South Carolina State House grounds. Selma's husband, Max Dickman, who died thirty years before this interview, co-founded the scrap metal business, Columbia Steel and Metal. The Dickmans raised three daughters in Columbia. In a postscript to the interview, Janis describes the Dickman family's relationship with Florida Boyd, an African-American woman who worked in their home for forty-three years. The transcript also includes comments and corrections made by Janis during proofing and additional background information she provided upon request.
Lilly Stern Filler was born in Munich, Germany, in 1947 to Holocaust survivors Jadzia Szklarz and Ben Stern. The Sterns immigrated two years later to Columbia, South Carolina, where Gabriel Stern, Ben’s uncle and immigration sponsor, lived. This interview opens with Lilly describing a Stern (Szterenzys) family photo taken, presumably, in Poland when Ben was a little boy. Ben met Jadzia after the war through Jadzia’s brother Ben Szklarz, who was his bunkmate in the concentration camps. Lilly recounts how her parents were reunited with their siblings after the war and talks about her aunts, uncle, and cousins. The oldest of four, she shares memories of and thoughts about growing up as a daughter of survivors. After encountering antisemitism when trying to join a high school social club, Lilly’s involvement with Jewish youth groups intensified. She elaborates on what Judaism means to her, and what it means to have a Jewish home. The interviewee recalls meeting her husband, Bruce Filler, a Rhode Island native, at Rusk Institute in New York City, where both were working as physical therapists. They married in 1972, moved to Massachusetts, earned graduate degrees, and in 1975 welcomed daughter Rachel before deciding to relocate to Columbia, where they opened their own practice, Columbia Rehabilitation Clinic. Sons Alex and Michael were born in 1978 and 1980. Four years later, Lilly, pursuing a long-held dream, started medical school at the University of South Carolina. She relates some of the issues she faced going to medical school and starting a new career as a woman in her thirties and forties, and as the mother of young children. She describes partnering with Richland Memorial Hospital to open Women Physicians Associates, an all-female OB-GYN practice. In 2000 Lilly followed up on an initiative her parents had started years before to erect a Holocaust Memorial in Columbia. She discusses how the project grew to include various members of the Columbia community, Jewish and non-Jewish. The monument, located in Memorial Park, was dedicated in 2001. The Columbia Holocaust Education Commission was established with surplus from the memorial fund and shared the same goals: “remember the six million . . . honor the survivors and the liberators . . . and educate South Carolinians about the Holocaust.”
Henry Miller, accompanied by his wife, Minda Miller, describes growing up in Columbia, South Carolina, in the 1950s and 1960s. His parents, Cela Tyczgarten and David Miller were survivors of the Holocaust; their move to Columbia in 1949 was sponsored by the city and Beth Shalom Synagogue. The Millers summarize David and Cela’s experiences during World War II, in particular, David’s participation in the ghetto uprising in his native city of Warsaw, Poland. David and Cela met and married in Landsberg, Germany, where they were living in a displaced persons camp. Henry observes how his parents’ status as Holocaust survivors and refugees affected their outlook on life, as well as how it affected him and his sister as children. He discusses his parents’ liquor store business, the neighborhoods where they lived, and his memories of downtown Columbia on Saturdays. He also reflects on school desegregation, antisemitism, and the effects of prejudice on blacks and Jews. Henry met Minda in Memphis, Tennessee, where he attended optometry school; they married in 1978. They have a daughter, Dawn, and a son, Bret. Henry practiced optometry for thirty-seven years in Columbia.