DIANA (GALANTE) GOLDEN
February 7, 1922 ~ September 22, 2013
~ Holocaust Survivor ~
Our beloved and courageous mother, Diana Golden, passed away on September 22, 2013, at the age of 91. She was born Diana Galante on February 7, 1922, on the beautiful Island of Rhodes, in the Agean Sea. She was the third of five children born to Rahamin and Lea Galante. As a teenager, Diana moved in with and cared for her maternal grandmother and blind aunt. In school, she learned to speak Italian, French, Spanish, and Hebrew.
Life for the Jews of Rhodes changed drastically in July, 1944 when Musolini invited the Nazi 3rd Reich to occupy Rhodes. All of the Island's Jews were told to leave their homes and belongings behind and go to the sea port. They were crowded into the holds of cargo ships and endured the long and sickening voyage to Pareaus, Greece. They were next trucked to Athens, squeezed in rail boxcars, and endured a horrific 28-day journey to Auschwitz extermination camp in Poland, arriving on August 16. Her father, like many others, did not survive the journey. Diana described life at the Auschwitz as "hell 24 hours a day. We were not a person, we were a number" .
In October, 1944, Diana and other prisoners, in very weakened state, were taken on a forced march to a work camp in Germany where she was put to work in a factory making munitions. In April, 1945, the camp was liberated by the Soviet army. Diana (along with two surviving sisters) were transported by the Red Cross to Prague, Hungary, then to Austria, and Italy, eventually ending up in Tangier, reuniting with other family members.
In 1948, sponsored by relatives, Diana moved to Los Angeles, and found employment in a shirt factory, going to night school to learn English. The next year she visited relatives in Seattle, liking it so much that she moved there. I. Magnin, the high-end department store, hired her as a stock clerk, then selling gloves. Her tall stature, and beautiful Mediterranean looks soon landed her a promotion modeling and selling designer clothes at the store.
Diana Galante met musician Kenneth Golden on a blind date, arranged by her Seattle relatives. Ken's mother, Ella, practically insisted that Ken marry Diana- that she would be a very good wife for him. But Ken was going to school and didn't have much money. Ella convinced him that two can live a cheaply as one, so on June 15,1952 they married. They moved to Portland where Kenneth studied music at Lewis and Clark College. Diana became a proud American citizen in 1953. They lived in Portland until 1973, then moved to Vancouver, WA, where Ken owned the American Music Company. They raised two daughters, and Diana became involved with many organizations including Hadassah, American Cancer Society, and the PTA. In 1973, after reading about a Holocaust denier, she decided to go public with her experiences in the Holocaust. She said in an interview, "I am not a martyr, I did not achieve anything. I was just a product of that time, but I am not going to remain silent." Over the years, Diana touched thousands of people around the world with her personal story and her positive outlook on life. In particular, she loved speaking to school children. She kept for years every single thank you card and letter she received, and there were hundreds of them.
Diana had an amazing journey;
a life filled with love, strength, courage,
inspiration and faith. "I owe everything to God".
Steven Spielberg's Shoah Foundation interviewed Diana in 1997 and her full testimony of her experiences in the holocaust are available for viewing at:
http://sfi.usc.edu/. and also on YouTube
Her story is also archived in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC.
Diana is survived by her daughters, Estelle and Elaine; son-in-law, Howard Brannon; grandchildren, Jackson and Connor Brannon; sister, Felicia (Ralph) Caldes; and many nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by Kenneth, her husband of 57 years; sisters, Jeanette and Rachel; brothers, Sol and Baruch.
Funeral services will be held on Wed., Sept. 25, 2013, 11:30 a.m. at Ahavai Shalom Cemetery, 9323 SW First, Portland, OR 97219. The family will have a gathering afterwards, to be announced at the service.
Remembrances to: Oregon Holocaust Resource Center/Endowment Fund.
Please sign her guestbook at: www.columbian.com/obits.
Published in The Columbian on Sept. 24, 2013