Story of Holocaust lives on through a survivor

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - History lives in a room tucked away in an assisted living home in Charleston.

A cheery wall in Diny Adkins' room pays tribute to music greats like Willie Nelson

Another wall revisits a darker time in the 73-year-old woman's life, the Holocaust.

"At first we all lived in Amsterdam, and then all the stuff across the street was going on babies getting killed and Nazis pushed in the doors and the people were screaming and we couldn't stay there," said Adkins.

Concerned the Nazis would soon come after the family, Adkins' parents made the heartbreaking decision to send their daughter into hiding.

"I had to say goodbye to my family when I was four and then I was on my own," said Adkins.

Adkins lived in a children's home until the woman who ran it feared the Nazis would kill her for keeping a Jewish child.

Adkins was then abandoned in the woods.

"I had no food in the war. I didn't know what bread was," said Adkins. "I ate tulip bulbs and grass and imagined it was spinach."

A nun ended up taking Adkins in, letting her stay in a tiny closet for several years.

Eventually the young girl was turned over to the Nazis and spent time in two concentration camps.

"My little girlfriend was shot. She was 4-years-old," said Adkins. "Her name was Edith and I think about her a lot and I pray for her a lot.  I'm sure she's watching over me."

When freed Adkins discovered her parents had survived the Holocaust.

After five long years apart, Adkins did not even recognize them.

"I thought they were dead, and I thought what is this man and woman doing," said Adkins. "The woman was crying. My mom was crying."

In the eighties, Adkins took her story of survival to schools and churches nationwide.

A thick binder of thank you notes from students and famous people like director Steven Spielberg reflect her impact.

"I talk about tolerance and helping people," said Adkins.

Adkins gives people a lesson in history but more importantly life.

"My whole message to the world is that we should be nicer to each other," said Adkins.

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