Holocaust survivor George Miller dies at 95

George Miller used to chuckle over the Croix de Guerre awarded him by the French Army — 30 years after his service in World War II.

Miller hated war, from his boyhood in Poland during World War I, up until America’s war in Iraq, which he followed closely until his death Feb. 13 at age 95 in Oakland.

As a young man he wrote poetry in Yiddish. Over the years, he amassed a collection of books in English, French, Yiddish, Polish and German; he was fluent in all five. Miller was also pumping iron at the gym until well into his ninth decade.

Most important was family: wife Bertha, who died two years ago after 71 years of marriage; daughter Odette, also deceased; and daughter Anne-Marie Miller of Oakland.

“He was family-oriented,” remembers Anne-Marie. “Aunts, uncles, cousins. We had parties and picnics every week.”

That was part of the good life he enjoyed in America after the war. Before then, Miller and his wife were caught up in the maelstrom of the Holocaust.

Born Icek Melspajz in Poland, Miller was orphaned early. In the 1920s, he immigrated to Paris where he developed a passion for languages, literature and politics.

At the outset of war, Miller joined the French army but was held in a Nazi stalag for most of the war.

In 1949, they settled in Los Angeles. There, Miller worked in the garment trade.

“He maintained a love of life, a great sense of humor,” says his daughter. “Both my parents were open to new things until the end.”

In retirement, Miller maintained a rigorous exercise regimen, read constantly, and bought season tickets to theater and music events, “even if it was the cheapest seats,” recalls Anne-Marie.

The couple moved to Berkeley in 1994. Even after the loss of his wife and eldest daughter, and after moving to a nursing home, Miller’s mind remained engaged. His lifelong aversion to war stemmed from personal experience during the Holocaust. Both Miller and his wife were interviewed by Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Visual History Foundation, which will preserve their stories for future generations.

Miller is survived by daughter Anne-Marie Miller and two grandchildren. Donations may be made to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, 100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, S.W., Washington, DC 20024.

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a contributing editor at J. He was a longtime staff writer at J. and retired as news editor in 2020.