Roman Haller–Survivor

Roman Haller and Irene Gut-Opdyke in Munich

Roman Haller does not know exactly when or where he was born; it was somewhere between May 7 and May 9, 1944, in the woods near Ternapol, in what is Ukraine today, but was Poland then. Twelve Jews were in hiding there for months. They were cared for by a young Polish woman named Irena Gut, who had previously housed the group in the villa of a Nazi functionary.

After liberation by the Red Army, Haller’s parents wanted to immigrate to the United States. They went to the American zone in Germany and were sent to a displaced persons camp in Freimann. Approval for their U.S. visa dragged on and the family eventually settled in Munich. 

Roman, Irene and her husband at Yad Vashem

After the war, Irene Gut married and immigrated to the United States, changing her surname to Gut-Opdyke. She told her family in California about the rescue only after she was asked in a 1972 survey whether the Holocaust had really taken place. This outraged her, and she asked a local rabbi to help her search for the Haller family. Irene reunited with the Hallers in Munich. Her heroic story became the basis for a Broadway play entitled “Irena’s Vow.”

Roman Haller with his father and mother