email a friend iconprinter friendly iconTen Years of ADVENTURE
Page [ 6 ] of 13
6. Update: Hiding From Nazis in Caves

"Death stalked each step," Esther [Stermer] wrote of that autumn. "But we were not surrendering to this fate.… Our family in particular would not let the Germans have their way easily. We had vigor, ingenuity, and determination to survive…. But where…? Clearly, there was no place left on the Earth for us."—"Off the Face of the Earth," by Peter Lane Taylor, ADVENTURE June/July 2004

The astonishing tale of a family of Jews who escaped the Gestapo during the Holocaust, hiding in a Ukrainian cave for 344 days, caused an international media sensation. All of the Stermer family members in the story are alive; most of them still reside in their adopted home city of Montreal. Later this summer, spelunker Chris Nicola, who first discovered evidence of their underground sanctuary, will join with a documentary team to take four survivors—Shulim Stermer, Shlomo Stermer, Shunkale Hochman, and Pepkale Blitzer—back to Ukraine to descend into Priest’s Grotto once again. "I’m not a youngster—I’m 88," says Shulim Stermer, who, on an earlier trip there, paid for a sheep he had stolen from a local farmer while hiding out. "Still, I would love to go in. I was a good caver."

Page [ 6 ] of 13
Join the discussion

National Geographic Adventure is pleased to provide this opportunity for you to share your comments about this article. Thanks for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Recent Comments
  • This is a phenominal summary of the human-animal conflict. If only the governments of our world wou…
Read All »