Diana Galante Golden (1922-2013)
Diana’s large Sephardic family included her father, a merchant who owned a dry goods store, her mother, two sisters, one brother, her grandmother, and an aunt, who was blind. They were part of a Sephardic Jewish community of about 10,000 living in one section of Rhodes. Diana’s older sister and brother lived in Morocco.
In June 1944, the Germans entered Rhodes and in July the Jews were rounded up and deported. Diana’s family was shipped first to a detention camp near Piraeus and then on trucks and in box cars to Auschwitz, where they arrived on August 16, 1944. Diana’s father died in the transport through Yugoslavia. In Auschwitz, Diana’s aunt, mother, and younger brother were separated from her and subsequently murdered. She and her two sisters clung together as they were washed, shaved, starved, and marched to a barracks at Birkenau. They worked there until the Germans evacuated the camp, and they were sent to another camp in southern Germany where they worked in a machine gun factory.
On May 9, 1945, the Russians liberated the camp, and Diana and her two sisters were transported to Austria and eventually to Italy in September 1945. With help from the Red Cross and the American Jewish Committee, they regained their health and joined their older sister and brother in Tangiers. From there, they began their emigration to the United States, starting with Diana’s two younger sisters. Diana’s emigration was sponsored by family members in Los Angeles, and she arrived in New York on February 10, 1948.
After moving to Seattle, where she worked as a sales girl at I. Magnin, Diana met and married her husband, Kenneth Golden in 1952. They settled in Portland and had two daughters: Estelle (born 1955) and Elaine (born 1958). The family joined Congregation Neveh Shalom, and Diana also joined the sisterhood of the Sephardic Synagogue, Ahavath Achim.